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THE introduction to this edition of Burke s speech 
on Conciliation with America is intended to supply 
the needs of those students who do not have access to 
a well-stocked library, or who, for any reason, are 
unable to do the collateral reading necessary for a 
complete understanding of the text. 

The sources from which information has been drawn 
in preparing this edition are mentioned under " Bibli 
ography." The editor wishes to acknowledge indebt 
edness to many of the excellent older editions of the 
speech, and also to Mr. A. P. Winston, of the Manual 
Training High School, for valuable suggestions. 








BIBLIOGRAPHY ........ xxxviii 


NOTES ... b ...... Ill 

INDEX 123 



IN 1651 originated the policy which caused the 
American Revolution. That policy was one of taxa 
tion, indirect, it is true, but none the less taxation. 
The first Navigation Act required that colonial ex- 
ports_shouM bQ__ghipp o d tfjlffnglanri jprASerican or 
English vessels. This was followed by a long "series 
of acts, regulating and restricting the American trade. 
Colonists were not allowed to exchange certain articles 
without paying duties thereon, and custom houses were 
established and officers appointed. Opposition to these 
proceedings was ineffectual; and in 1696, in order to 
expedite the business of taxation, and to establish a 
better method of ruling the colonies, a board was ap 
pointed, called the Lords Commissioners for Trade 
and Plantations. The royal governors found in this 
board ready sympathizers, and were not slow to report 
their grievances, and to insist upon more stringent 
.regulations for enforcing obedience. Some of the 



retaliative measures employed were the suspension of 
the writ of habeas corpus, the abridgment of the 
freedom of the press and the prohibition of elections. 
But the colonists generally succeeded in having their 
own way in the end, and were not wholly without en 
couragement and sympathy in the English Parlia 
ment. It may be that the war with France, which 
ended with the fall of Quebec, had much to do with 
this rather generous treatment. The Americans, too, 
were favored by the Whigs, who had been in power 
for more than seventy years. The policy of this great 
party was not opposed to the sentiments and ideas of 
political freedom that had grown up in the colonies ; 
and, although more than half of the Navigation Acts 
were passed by Whig governments, the leaders had 
known how to wink rt the violation of nearly all of 

Immediately after the close of the French war, and 
after George III. had ascended the throne of England, 
it was decided to enforce the Navigation Acts rigidly. 
There was to be no more smuggling, and, to prevent 
this, Writs of Assistance were issued. Armed with 
such authority, a servant of the king might enter the 
home of any citizen, and make a thorough search for 
smuggled goods. It is needless to say the measure 
was resisted vigorously, and its reception by the colo 
nists, and its effect upon them, has been called the 


opening scene of the American Revolution. As a 
matter of fact, this sudden_ change in the^ attitude of 
England toward the colonies, marks the beginning 
of the policy of George III. which, had it been suc 
cessful, would have made him the ruler of an absolute 
instead of a limited monarchy. He hated the Tories 
only less than the Whigs," and when he bestowed a 
favor upon either, it was for the purpose of weaken 
ing the other. The first task he set himself was that 
of crushing the Whigs. Since the Eevolution of 1688, 
they had dictated the policy of the English gov 
ernment, and through wise leaders had become 
supreme in authority. They were particularly ob 
noxious to him because of their republican spirit, 
and he regarded their ascendency as a constant men 
ace to his kingly power. Fortune seemed to favor 
him in the dissensions which arose. There grew up 
two factions in the Whig party. There were old 
Whigs and new Whigs. George played one against 
the other, advanced his favorites when opportunity 
offered, and in the end succeeded in forming a min 
istry composed of his friends and obedient to his 

With the ministry safely in hand, he turned his 
attention to the House of Commons. The old Whigs 
had set an example, which George was shrewd enough 
to follow. Walpole and Newcastle had succeeded in 


giving England one of the most peaceful and prosper 
ous governments within in the previous history of the 
nation, but their methods were corrupt. With much 
of the judgment, penetration and wise forbearance 
which marks a statesman, Walpole s distinctive quali 
ties of mind eminently fitted him for political intrigue ; 
Newcastle was still worse, and has the distinction of 
being the premier under whose administration the re 
volt against official corruption first received the sup 
port of the public. 

For near a hundred years, the territorial distribu 
tion of seats in the House had remained the same, 
while the centres of population had shifted along with 
those of trade and new industries. Great towns were 
without representation, while boroughs, such as Old 
Sarum, without a single voter, still claimed, and had, 
a seat in Parliament. Such districts, or " rotten bor 
oughs," were owned and controlled by many of the 
great landowners. Both Walpole and Newcastle re 
sorted to the outright purchase of these seats, arid 
when the time came George did not shrink from 
doing the same thing. He went even further. All 
preferments of whatsoever sort were bestowed upon 
those who would do his bidding, and the business of 
bribery assumed such proportions that an office was 
opened at the Treasury for this purpose, from which 
twenty-five thousand founds are said to have passed 


m a single day. Parliament had been for a long time 
only partially representative of the people; it now 
ceased to be so almost completely. 

With the support which such methods secured, along 
with encouragement from his ministers, tue king was 
prepared to put in operation his policy for regulating 
the affairs of America. Writs of Assistance (1761) 
were followed by the passage of the Stamp Act (1765). 
The ostensible object of both these measures was to 
help pay the debt incurred by the French war, but 
the real purpose lay deeper, and was nothing more 
or less than the ultimate extension of parliamentary 
rule, in great things as well as small, to America. At 
this crisis, so momentous for the colonists, the Kock- 
ingham ministry was formed, and Burke, together 
with Pitt, supported a motion for the unconditional 
repeal of the Stamp Act. After much wrangling, the 
motion was carried, and the first blunder of the 
mother country seemed to have been smoothed over. 
Only a few months elapsed, however, when the 
question of taxing the colonies was revived. Pitt lay 
ill, and could take no part in the proposed measure. 
Through the influence of other members of his party, 
notably Townshend, a series of acts were passed, 
imposing duties on several exports to America. This 
was followed by a suspension of the New York As 
sembly, because it had disregarded instructions in the 


matter of supplies for the troops. The colonists were 
furious. Matters went from bad to worse. To with 
draw as far as possible without yielding the principle 
at stake, the duties on all the exports mentioned in the 
bill were removed, except that on tea. But it was 
precisely the principle for which the colonists were 
contending. They were not in the humor for com 
promise, when they believed their freedom was endan 
gered, and the strength and determination of their 
resistance found a climax in the Boston Tea Party. 

In the meantime, Lord North, who was absolutely 
obedient to the king, had become prime minister. 
Five bills were prepared, the tenor of which, it was 
thought, would overawe the colonists. Of these, the 
Boston Port Bill and the Regulating Act are perhaps 
the most famous, though the ultimate tendency of all 
was blindly coercive. 

While the king and his friends were busy with these, 
the opposition proposed an unconditional repeal of the 
Tea Act. The bill was introduced only to be over 
whelmingly defeated by the same Parliament that 
passed the five measures of Lord North. 

In America, the effect of these proceedings was such 
as might have been expected by thinking men. The 
colonies were as a unit in their support of Massachu 
setts. The Eegulating Act was set at defiance, public 
officers in the king s service were forced to resign, 


town meetings were held, and preparations for war 
were begun in dead earnest. To avert this, some of 
England s greatest statesmen Pitt among the num 
ber asked for a reconsideration. On February the 
first, 1775, a bill was introduced, which would have 
gone far toward bringing peace. One month later, 
Burke delivered his speech on Conciliation with the 


There is nothing unusual in Burke s early life. He 
was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1729. His father was 
a successful lawyer and a Protestant, his mother, a 
Catholic. At the age of twelve, he became a pupil of 
Abraham Shackleton, a Quaker, who had been teach 
ing some fifteen years at Ballitore, a small town thirty 
miles from Dublin. In after years Burke was always 
pleased to speak of his old friend in the kindest way : 
" If I am anything," he declares, " it is the education 
I had there that has made me so." And again at 
Shackleton s death, when Burke was near the zenith 
of his fame and popularity, he writes : " I had a true 
honor and affection for that excellent man. I feel 
something like a satisfaction in the midst of my con 
cern, that I was fortunate enough to have him under 
my roof before his departure." It can hardly be 


doubted that the old Quaker schoolmaster succeeded 
with his pupil who was already so favorably inclined, 
and it is more than probable that the daily example of 
one who lived out Ms precepts was strong in its in 
fluence upon a young and generous mind. 

Burke attended school at Ballitore two years ; then, 
at the age of fourteen, he became a student at Trinity 
College, Dublin, and remained there five years. At 
college he was unsystematic and careless of routine. 
He seems to have done pretty much as he pleased, 
and, however methodical he became in after life, his 
study during these five years was rambling and spas 
modic. The only definite knowledge we have of this 
period is given by Burke himself in letters to his former 
friend Richard Shackleton, son of his old schoolmaster. 
What he did was done with a zest that at times be 
came a feverish impatience : " First I was greatly 
taken with natural philosophy, which, while I should 
have given my mind to logic, employed me inces 
santly. This I call my/wror mathematicus." Follow 
ing in succession come his furor logicus, furor historicus, 
and furor poeticus, each of which absorbed him for the 
time being. It would be wrong, however, to think of 
Burke as a trifler even in his youth. He read in the 
library three hours every day and we may be sure he 
read as intelligently as eagerly. It is more than prob 
able that like a few other great minds he did not need 


a rigid system to guide him. If he chose his subjects 
of study at pleasure, there is every reason to believe 
he mastered them. 

Of intimate friends at the University we hear 
nothing. Goldsmith came one year later, but there 
is no evidence that they knew each other. It is 
probable that Burke, always reserved, had little in 
common with his young associates. His own musings, 
with occasional attempts at writing poetry, long walks 
through the country, and frequent letters to and from 
Richard Shackleton, employed him when not at his 

Two years after taking his degree, Burke went to 
London and established himself at the Middle Temple 
for the usual routine course in law. Another long 
period passes of which there is next to nothing 
known. His father, an irascible, hot-tempered man, 
had wished him to begin the practice of law, but Burke 
seems to have continued in a rather irregular way 
pretty much as when an undergraduate at Dublin. 
His inclinations were not toward the law, but litera 
ture. His father, angered at such a turn of affairs, 
promptly reduced his allowance and left him to follow 
his natural bent in perfect freedom. In 1756, six 
years after his arrival in London, and almost im 
mediately following the rupture with his father, he 
married a Miss Nugent. At about the same time he 


published his first two books, 1 and began in earnest 
the life of an author. 

He attracted the attention of literary men. Dr. 
Johnson had just completed his famous dictionary, 
and was the centre of a group of writers who accepted 
him at his own valuation. Burke did not want for 
company, and wrote copiously. 2 He became associated 
with Dodsley, a bookseller, who began publishing the 
Annual Register in 1759, and was paid a hundred 
pounds a year for writing upon current events. He 
spent two years (1761-63) in Ireland in the employ 
ment of William Hamilton, but at the end of that 
time returned, chagrined and disgusted with his 
would-be patron, who utterly failed to recognize 
Burke s worth, and persisted in the most unreason 
able demands upon his time and energy. 

For once Burke s independence served him well. 
In 1765 Lord Eockingham became prime minister, 
and Burke, widely known as the chief writer for the 
Annual Register, was free to accept the position of 
private secretary, which Lord B-ockingham was glad 
to offer him. His services here were invaluable. The 
new relations thus established did not end with the 

1 A Vindication of Natural Society and Philosophical Inquiry 
into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. 

2 Hints for an Essay on the Drama. Abridgement of the History 
of England. 


performance of the immediate duties of his office, but 
a warm friendship grew up between the two, which 
lasted till the death of Lord Buckingham. While yet 
private secretary, Burke was elected to Parliament 
from the borough of Wendover. It was through the 
influence of his friend, or perhaps relative, William 
Burke, that his election was Secured. 

Only a few days after taking his seat in the House 
of Commons, Burke made his first speech, January 27, 
1766. He followed this in a very short time with 
another upon the same subject the Taxation of the 
American Colonies. Notwithstanding the great honor 
and distinction which these first speeches brought 
Burke, his party was dismissed at the close of the 
session and the Chatham ministry formed. He re 
mained with his friends, and employed himself in 
refuting 1 the charges of the former minister, George 
Grenville, who wrote a pamphlet accusing his suc 
cessors of gross neglect of public duties. 

At this point in his life comes the much-discussed 
matter of Beaconsfield. How Burke became rich 
enough to purchase such expensive property is a ques 
tion that has never been answered by his friends or 
enemies. There are mysterious hints of successful 
speculation in East India stock, of money borrowed, 
and Burke himself, in a letter to Shackleton, speaks 
Observations on the Present State of the Nation, 


of aid from his friends and " all [the money] he could 
collect of his own." However much we may regret 
the air of mystery surrounding the matter, and the 
opportunity given those ever ready to smirch a great 
man s character, it is not probable that any one ever 
really doubted Burke s integrity in this or any other 
transaction. Perhaps the true explanation of his 
seemingly reckless extravagance (if any explanation 
is needed) is that the conventional standards of his 
time forced it upon him ; and it may be that Burke 
himself sympathized to some extent with these stand 
ards, and felt a certain satisfaction in maintaining a 
proper attitude before the public. 

The celebrated case of Wilkes offered an oppor 
tunity for discussing the narrow and corrupt policy 
pursued by George III. and his followers. Wilkes, 
outlawed for libel and protected in the meantime 
through legal technicalities, was returned to Parlia 
ment by Middlesex. The House expelled him. He 
was repeatedly elected and as many times expelled, 
and finally the returns were altered, the House voting 
its approval by a large majority. In 1770 Burke pub 
lished his pamphlet 1 in which he discussed the situa 
tion. For the first time he showed the full sweep 
and breadth of his understanding. His tract was in 
the interest of his party, but it was written in a spirit 
1 Present Discontents. 


far removed from narrow partisanship. He pointed 
out with absolute clearness the cause of dissatisfac 
tion and unrest among the people and charged George 
III. and his councillors with gross indifference to the 
welfare of the nation and corresponding devotion to 
selfish interests. He contended that Parliament was 
usurping privileges when it presumed to expel any 
one, that the people had a right to send whomsoever 
they pleased to Parliament, and finally that " in all 
disputes between them and their rulers, the presump 
tion was at least upon a par in favor of the people." 
From this time until the American Revolution, Burke 
used every opportunity to denounce the policy which 
the king was pursuing at home and abroad. He 
doubtless knew beforehand that what he might say 
would pass unnoticed, but he never faltered in a stead 
fast adherence to his ideas of government, founded, as 
he believed, upon the soundest principles. Bristol 
elected him as its representative in Parliament. It 
was a great honor and Burke felt its significance, 
yet he did not flinch when the time came for him to 
take a stand. He voted for the removal of some of 
the restrictions upon Irish trade. His constituents, 
representing one of the most prosperous mercantile 
districts, angered and disappointed at what they held 
to be a betrayal of trust, refused to reelect him. 

Lord North s ministry came to an end in 1782, im- 


mediately after the battle of Yorktown, and Lord 
Eockingham was chosen prime minister. Burke s 
past services warranted him in expecting an important 
place in the cabinet, but he was ignored. Various 
things have been suggested as reasons for this: he 
was poor ; some of his relations and intimate associates 
were objectionable ; there were dark hints of specula 
tions; he was an Irishman. It is possible that any 
one of these facts, or all of them, furnished a good 
excuse for not giving him an important position in 
the new government. But it seems more probable 
that Burke s abilities were not appreciated so justly 
as they have been since. The men with whom he 
associated saw some of his greatness but not all of it. 
He was assigned the office of Paymaster of Forces, a 
place of secondary importance. 

Lord Kockingham died in three months and the 
party went to pieces. Burke refused to work under 
Shelburne, and, with Fox, joined Lord North in form 
ing the coalition which overthrew the Whig party. 
Burke has been severely censured for the part he took 
in this. Perhaps there is little excuse for his deser 
tion, and it is certainly true that his course raises the 
question of his sincere devotion to principles. His 
personal dislike of Shelburne was so intense that he 
may have yielded to his feelings. He felt hurt, too, 
we may be sure, at the disposition made of him by his 


friends. In replying to a letter asking him for a 
place in the new government, he writes that his corre 
spondent has been misinformed. " I make no part of 
bhe ministerial arrangement," he writes, and adds, 
" Something in the official line may be thought fit for 
my measure." 

As a supporter of the coalition, Burke was one of 
the framers of the India Bill. This was directed 
against the wholesale robbery and corruption which 
the East India Company had been guilty of in its 
government of the country. Both Fox and Burke 
Defended the measure with all the force and power 
which a thorough mastery of facts, a keen sense of the 
injustice done an unhappy people, and a splendid rhet 
oric can give. But it was doomed from the first. The 
people at large were indifferent, many had profitable 
business relations with the company, and the king 
used his personal influence against it. The bill failed 
to pass, the coalition was dismissed, and the party, 
which had in Burke its greatest representative, was 
utterly ruined. 

The failure of the India Bill marked a victory for 
the king, and it also prepared the way for one of the 
most famous transactions of Burke s life. Macaulay 
has told how impressive and magnificent was the scene 
at the trial of Warren Hastings. There were political 
-reasons for the impeachment, but the chief motive that 


stirred Burke was far removed from this. He saw 
understood the real state of affairs in India. The 
mismanagement, the brutal methods, and the crimes 
committed there in the name of the English govern 
ment, moved him profoundly, and when he rose before 
the magnificent audience at Westminster, for opening 
the cause, he forced his hearers, by his own mighty 
passion, to see with his own eyes, and to feel his own 
righteous anger. "When he came to his two narra 
tives," says Miss Burney, " when he related the par 
ticulars of those dreadful murders, he interested, he 
engaged, he at last overpowered me ; I felt my cause 
lost. I could hardly keep my seat. My eyes dreaded 
a single glance toward a man so accused as Mr. Hast 
ings ; I wanted to sink on the floor, that they might 
be saved so painful a sight. I had no hope he could 
clear himself ; not, another wish in his favor remained." 
The trial lasted for six years and ended with the 
acquittal of Hastings. The result was not a surprise, 
and least of all to Burke. The fate of the India BilJ 
had taught him how completely indifferent the populai 
mind was to issues touching deep moral questions. 
Though a seeming failure, he regarded the impeach 
ment as the greatest work of his life. It did much to 
arouse and stimulate the national sense of justice. It 
made clear the cruel methods sometimes pursued under 
the guise of civilization and progress. The moral vie* 


cory is claimed for Burke, and without a doubt the 
claim is valid. 

The second of the great social and political problems, 
which employed English statesmen in the last half of the 
eighteenth century, was settled in the impeachment of 
Warren Hastings. The affairs of America and India 
were now overshadowed by the French Revolution, and 
Burke, with the far-sighted vision of a veteran states 
man, watched the progress of events and their influence 
upon the established order. In 1773 he had visited 
France, and had returned displeased. It is remarkable 
with what accuracy he pointed out the ultimate tendency 
of much that he saw. A close observer of current phases 
of society, and on the alert to explain them in the light of 
broad and fundamental principles of human progress, 
he had every opportunity for studying social life at the 
French capital. Unlike the younger men of his times, 
he was doubtful, and held his judgment in suspense. 
The enthusiasm of even Fox seemed premature, and he 
held himself aloof from the popular demonstrations of 
admiration and approval that were everywhere going 
on. The fact is, Burke was growing old, and with his 
years he was becoming more conservative. He dreaded 
change, and was suspicious of the wisdom of those who 
set about such widespread innovations, and made such 
brilliant promises for the future. But the time rapidly 
approached for him to declare himself, and in 1790 his 


Reflections on the Revolution in France was issued. His 
friends had long waited its appearance, and were not 
wholly surprised at the position taken. What did 
surprise them was the eagerness with which the 
people seized upon the book, and its effect upon them 
The Tories, with the king, applauded long and loud ; 
the Whigs were disappointed, for Burke condemned the 
Revolution unreservedly, and with a bitterness out .of 
all proportion to the cause of his anxiety and fear. 
As the Revolution progressed, he grew fiercer in his 
denunciation. He broke with his lifelong associates, 
and declared that no one who sympathized with the 
work of the Assembly could be his friend. His other 
writings on the Eevolution l were in a still more violent 
strain, and it is hard to think of them as coming from 
the author of the Speech on Conciliation. 

Three years before his death, at the conclusion of 
the trial of Warren Hastings, Burke s last term in 
Parliament expired. He did not wish office again, 
and withdrew to his estate. Through the influence of 
friends, and because of his eminent services, it was pro 
posed to make him peer, with the title of Lord Beacons- 
field. But the death of his son prevented, and a pension 
of twenty-five hundred pounds a year was given instead. 
It was a signal for his enemies, and during his last 

1 Letter to a Member of the National Assembly and Letters on & 
Regicide Peace. 


days he was busy with his reply. The " Letter to a 
Noble Lord," though written little more than a year 
before his death, is considered one of the most per 
fect of his papers. Saddened by the loss of his son, 
and broken in spirits, there is yet left him enough old- 
time energy and lire to answer his detractors. But 
his wonderful career was near its close. His last 
months were spent in writing about the French Revo 
lution, and the third letter on a Regicide Peace a 
fragment was doubtless composed just before his 
death. On the 9th of July, 1797, he passed away. 
His friends claimed for him a place in Westminster, 
but his last wish was respected, and he was buried at 


There is hardly a political tract or pamphlet of 
Burke s in which he does not state, in terms more or 
less clear, the fundamental principle in his theory 
of government. " Circumstances," he says in one 
place, "give, in reality, to every political principle, its 
distinguishing color and discriminating effect. The 
circumstances are what renders every civil and politi 
cal scheme beneficial or obnoxious to mankind." At 
another time he exclaims : " This is the true touch 
stone of all theories which regard man and the affairs 


of men ; does it suit his nature in general, does ii 
suit his nature as modified by his habits ? " And 
again he extends his system to affairs outside the 
realm of politics. " All government," he declares, " in 
deed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue 
and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and 

^(rlt is clear that Burke thought the State existed for 
the people, and not the people for the State. The 
doctrine is old to us, but it was not so in Burke s time, 
and it required courage to expound it. The great par 
ties had forgotten the reason for their existence, and 
one of them had become hardened and blinded by that 
corruption which seems to follow long tenure of office. 
The affairs of India, Ireland, and America gave excel 
lent opportunity for an exhibition of English states 
manship, but in each case the policy pursued was 
dictated, not by a clear perception of what was needed 
in these countries, but by narrow selfishness, not un 
mixed with dogmatism of the most challenging sort. 
The situation in India, as regards climate, character, 
and institutions, counted for little in the minds of 
those who were growing rich as agents of the East 
India Company. Much the same may be said of 
America and Ireland. The sense of Parliament, in 
fluenced by the king, was to use these parts of the 
British Empire in raising a revenue, and in strength- 


?ning party organization at home. In opposing this 
policy, Burke lost his seat as representative for Bristol, 
then the second city of England ; spent fourteen of 
the best years of his life in conducting the impeach 
ment of Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India ; 
and, greatest of all, delivered his famous speeches on 
Taxation and Conciliation, in behalf of the American 

Notwithstanding the distinctly modern tone of 
Burke s ideas, it would be wrong to think of him as 
a thoroughgoing reformer. He has been called the 
Great Conservative, and the title is appropriate. He 
would have shrunk from a purely republican form of 
government, such as our own, and it is, perhaps, a 
fact that he was suspicious of a government by the 
people. The trouble, as he saw it, lay with the repre 
sentatives of the people. Upon them, as guardians of 
a trust, rested the responsibility of protecting those 
whom they were chosen to serve. While he bitterly 
opposed any measures involving radical change in the 
Constitution, he was no less ardent in denouncing 
political corruptions of all kinds whatsoever. In his 
Economical Reform he sought to curtail the enormous 
extravagance of the royal household, and to withdraw 
the means of wholesale bribery, which offices at the 
disposal of the king created. He did not believe that 
a more effective means than this lay in the proposed 


plan for a redistribution of seats in the House of 
Commons. In one place, he declared it might be well 
to lessen the number of voters, in order to add to their 
weight and independence ; at another, he asks that the 
people be stimulated to a more careful scrutiny of the 
conduct of their representatives; and on every occa 
sion he demands that the legislators give their sup 
port to those measures only which have for their 
object the good of the whole people. 

It is obvious, however, that Burke s policy had 
grievous faults. His reverence for the past, and his 
respect for existing institutions as the heritage of the 
past, made him timid and overcautious in dealing 
with abuses. Although he stood with Pitt in defend 
ing the American colonies, he had no confidence in 
the thoroughgoing reforms which the great Commoner 
proposed. When the Stamp Act was repealed, Pitt 
would have gone even further. He would have ac 
knowledged the absolute injustice of taxation without 
representation. Burke held tenaciously to the oppos 
ing theory, and warmly supported the Declaratory 
Act, which "asserted the supreme authority of Parlia 
ment over the colonies, in all cases whatsoever." His 
support of the bill for the repeal of the Stamp Act, as 
well as his plea for reconciliation, ten years later, were 
aot prompted by a firm belief in the injustice of Eng 
land s course. He expressly states, in both cases, 


that to enforce measures so repugnant to the Ameri 
cans, would be detrimental to the home government. 
It would result in confusion and disorder, and would 
bring, perhaps, in the end, open rebellion. All of his 
speeches on American affairs show his willingness to 
" barter and compromise " in order to avoid this, but 
nowhere is there a hint of fundamental error in the 
Constitution. This was sacred to him, and he resented 
to the last any proposition looking to an organic 
change in its structure. " The lines of morality," he 
declared, "are not like ideal lines of mathematics. 
They are broad and deep, as well as long. They admit 
of exceptions ; they demand modifications. These ex 
ceptions and modifications are made, not by the pro 
cess of logic, but the rules of prudence. Prudence is 
not only first in rank of all the virtues, political and 
moral, but she is the director, the regulator, the standard 
of them all." 

The chief characteristics, then, of Burke s political 
philosophy are opposed to much that is fundamental 
in modern systems. His doctrine is better than that 
of George III., because it is more generous, and affords 
opportunity for superficial readjustment and adapta 
tion. It is this last, or rather the proof it gives of 
his insight, that has secured Burke so high a place 
among English statesmen. 



Addison ...... 1672-1719 

Steele 1672-1729 

Defoe 1661-1731 

Swift . 1667-1745 

Pope 1688-1744 

Richardson 1689-1761 


Johnson 1709-1784 

Goldsmith 1728-1774 

Fielding 1707-1754 

Sterne ...... 1713-1768 

Smollett 1721-1771 

Gray 1716-1771 

Boswell 1740-1796 


It has become almost trite to speak of the breadth 
of Burke s sympathies. We should examine the state 
ment, however, and understand its significance and 
see its justice. While he must always be regarded 
first as a statesman of one of the highest types, he had 
other interests than those directly suggested by his 


office, and in one of these, at least, he affords an 
interesting and profitable study. 

To the student of literature Burke s name must 
always suggest that of Johnson and Goldsmith. It 
was eight years after Burke s first appearance as an 
author, that the famous Literary Club was formed. 
At first it was the intention to limit the club to a 
membership of nine, and for a time this was adhered 
to. The original members were Johnson, Burke, Gold 
smith, Eeynolds, and Hawkins. Garrick, Fox, and 
Boswell came in later. Macaulay declares that the 
influence of the club was so great that its verdict 
made and unmade reputations ; but the thing most 
interesting to us does not lie in the consideration 
of such literary dictatorship. To Boswell we owe 
a biography of Johnson which has immortalized its 
subject, and shed lustre upon all associated with him. 
The literary history of the last third of the eigh 
teenth century, with Johnson as a central figure, is 
told nowhere else with such accuracy, or with better 

Although a Tory, Johnson was a great one, and his 
lasting friendship for Burke is an enduring evidence 
of his generosity and great-mindedness. For twenty 
years, and longer, they were eminent men in opposing 
parties, yet their mutual respect and admiration con 
tinued to the last. To Burke, Johnson was a writer 


of "eminent literary merit " and entitled to a pension 
"solely on that account." To Johnson, Burke was 
:he greatest man of his age, wrong politically, to be 
sure, yet the only one "whose common conversation 
3orresponded to the general fame which he had in the 
world " the only one " who was ready, whatever sub- 
ect was chosen, to meet you on your own ground." 
Here and there in the Life are allusions to Burke, 
and admirable estimates of his many-sided character. 

Coming directly to an estimate of Burke from the 
purely literary point of view, it must be borne in 
mind that the greater part of his writings was pre 
pared for an audience. Like Macaulay, his prevailing 
style suggests the speaker, and his methods through 
out are suited to declamation and oratory. He lacks 
the ease and delicacy that we are accustomed to look 
for in the best prose writers, and occasionally one feels 
the justice of Johnson s stricture, that "he sometimes 
talked partly from ostentation " ; or of Hazlitt s criti 
cism that he seemed to be "perpetually calling the 
speaker out to dance a minuet with him before he 

There may be passages here and there that warrant 
such censure. Burke is certainly ornate, and at times 
he is extremely self-conscious, but the dominant qual 
ity of his style, and the one which forever contradicts 
the idea of mere showiness, is passion. In his method 


of approaching a subject, lie may be, and perhaps is, 
rather tedious, but when once he has come to the mat 
ter really in hand, he is no longer the rhetorician, 
dealing in fine phrases, but the great seer, clothing 
his thoughts in words suitable and becoming. The 
most magnificent passages in his writings the Con 
ciliation is rich in them owe their charm and ef 
fectiveness to this emotional capacity. They were 
evidently written in moments of absolute abandon 
ment to feeling in moments when he was absorbed 
in the contemplation of some great truth, made lumi 
nous by his own unrivalled powers. 

Closely allied to this intensity of passion, is a 
splendid imaginative quality. Few writers of Eng 
lish prose have such command of figurative expres 
sion. It must be said, however, that Burke was not 
entirely free from the faults which generally accom 
pany an excessive use of figures. Like other great 
masters of a decorative style, he frequently becomes 
pompous and grandiloquent. His thought, too, is 
obscured, where we would expect great clearness of 
statement, accompanied by a dignified simplicity; 
and occasionally we feel that he forgets his subject 
in an anxious effort to make an impression. Though 
there are passages in his writings that justify such 
observations, they are few in number, when compared 
with those which are really masterpieces of their kind 


Some great crisis, or threatening state of affairs, seems 
to furnish the necessary condition for the exercise of 
a great mind, and Burke is never so effective as when 
thoroughly aroused. His imagination needed the chas 
tening which only a great moment or critical situation 
could give. Two of his greatest speeches Concilia 
tion, and Impeachment of Warren Hastings were 
delivered under the restraining effect of such circum 
stances, and in each the figurative expression is sub 
dued and not less beautiful in itself than appropriate 
for the occasion. 

Finally, it must be observed that no other writer of 
English prose has a better command of words. His 
ideas, as multifarious as they are, always find fitting 
expression. He does not grope for a term ; it stands 
ready for his thought, and one feels that he had 
opportunity for choice. It is the exuberance of his 
fancy, already mentioned, coupled with this richness 
of vocabulary, that helped to make Burke a tiresome 
speaker. His mind was too comprehensive to allow 
any phase of his subject to pass without illumination. 
He followed where his subject led him, without any 
great attention to the patience of his audience. But 
he receives full credit when his speeches are read. It 
is then that his mastery of the subject and the splen 
did qualities of his style are apparent, and appreciated 
at their worth. 


In conclusion, it is worth while observing that in 
the study of a great character, joined with an attempt 
to estimate it by conventional standards, something 
must always be left unsaid. Much may be learned 
of Burke by knowing his record as a partisan, more 
by a minute inspection of his style as a writer, but 
beyond all this is the moral tone or attitude of the 
man himself. To a student of Burke this is the 
greatest thing about him. It colored every line he 
wrote, and to it, more than anything else, is due the 
immense force of the man as a speaker and writer. 
It was this, more than Burke s great abilities, that 
justifies Dr. Johnson s famous eulogy: "He is not 
only the first man in the House of Commons, he is the 
first man everywhere." 


Wordsworth 1770-1850 

Coleridge ,.-,.. 1772-1834 

Byron 1788-1824 

Shelley 1792-1822 

Keats 1795-1821 

Scott 1771-1832 



1. "Like Goldsmith, though in a different sphere, Burke 
belongs both to the old order and the new." Discuss that 

2. Burke and the Literary Club. (Boswell s Life of 

3. Lives of Burke and Goldsmith. Contrast. 

4. An interpretation of ten apothegms selected from the 
Speech on Conciliation. 

5. A study of figures in the Speech on Conciliation. 

6. A definition of the terms : " colloquialism " and " idiom." 
Instances of their use in the Speech on Conciliation. 


1. Burke s Life. John Morley. English Men of Letters 

2. Burke. John Morley. An Historical Study. 

3. Burke. John Morley. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

4. History of the English People. Green. Vol. IV., pp. 

5. History of Civilization in England. Buckle. Vol. I., 
pp. 326-338. 

6. The American Revolution. Fiske. Vol. I., Chaps. I., II 

7. Life of Johnson. Boswell. {Use the Index.} 


MARCH 22, 1775 

I HOPE, Sir, that notwithstanding the austerity of 
the Chair, your good nature will incline you to some 
degree of indulgence towards human frailty. You 
will not think it unnatural that those who have an 
object depending, which strongly engages their hopes 5 
and fears, should be somewhat inclined to supersti 
tion. As I came into the House full of anxiety about 
the event of my motion, I found, to my infinite sur 
prise, that the grand penal bill, by which we had 
passed sentence on the trade and sustenance of ja 
America, is to be returned to us from the other 
House. I do confess I could not help looking on 
this event as a fortunate omen. I look upon it as v 
sort of providential favor, by which we are put once 
more in possession of our deliberative capacity upon ij 
a business so very questionable in its nature, so very 

B 1 


uncertain in its issue. By the return of this bill, which 
seemed to have taken its flight forever, we are at this 
very instant nearly as free to choose a plan for our 
American Government as we were on the first day of 
5 the session. If, Sir, we incline to the side of concilia 
tion, we are not at all embarrassed (unless we please 
to make ourselves so) by any incongruous mixture of 
coercion and restraint. We are therefore called upon, 
as it were by a superior warning voice, again to attend 
10 to America ; to attend to the whole of it together ; and 
to review the subject with an unusual degree of care 
and calmness. 

Surely it is an awful subject, or there is none so on 
this side of the grave. When I first had the honor 
15 of a seat in this House, the affairs of that continent 
pressed themselves upon us as the most important 
and most delicate object of Parliamentary attention. 
My little share in this great deliberation oppressed 
me. I found myself a partaker in a very high trust ; 
20 and, having no sort of reason to rely on the strength 
of my natural abilities for the proper execution of that 
trust, I was obliged to take more than common pains 
to instruct myself in everything which relates to our 
Colonies. I was not less under the necessity of form- 
as ing some fixed ideas concerning the general policy of 


the British Empire. Something of this sort seemed 
to be indispensable, in order, amidst so vast a fluctua 
tion of passions and opinions, to concentre my thoughts, 
to ballast my conduct, to preserve me from being blown 
about by every wind of fashionable doctrine. I really $ 
did not think it safe or manly to have fresh principles 
to seek upon every fresh mail which should arrive from 

At that period I had the fortune to find myself in 
perfect concurrence with a large majority in this House. 10 
Bowing under that high authority, and penetrated with 
the sharpness and strength of that early impression, I 
have continued ever since, without the least deviation, 
in my original sentiments. Whether this be owing to 
an obstinate perseverance in error, or to a religious ad- 15 
herence to what appears to me truth and reason, it is 
in your equity to judge. 

Sir, Parliament having an enlarged view of objects, 
made, during this interval, more frequent changes in 
their sentiments and their conduct than could be justi- 20 
fied in a particular person upon the contracted scale of 
private information. But though I do not hazard any 
thing approaching to a censure on the motives of former 
Parliaments to all those alterations, one fact is un 
doubted that under them the state of America has a $ 


been kept in continual agitation. Everything admin 
istered as remedy to the public complaint, if it did 
not produce, was at least followed by, an heightening 
of the distemper ; until, by a variety of experiments, 

5 that important country has been brought into her 
present situation a situation which I will not mis 
call, which I dare not name, which I scarcely know 
how to comprehend in the terms of any description. 
In this posture, Sir, things stood at the beginning 

10 of the session. About that time, a worthy member of 
great Parliamentary experience, who, in the year 1766, 
filled the chair of the American committee with much 
ability, took me aside; and, lamenting the present 
aspect of our politics, told me things were come to 

15 such a pass that our former methods of proceeding 
in the House would be no longer tolerated : that the 
public tribunal (never too indulgent to a long and un 
successful opposition) would now scrutinize our con 
duct with unusual severity : that the very vicissitudes 

20 and shiftings of Ministerial measures, instead of con 
victing their authors of inconstancy and want of sys 
tem, would be taken as an occasion of charging us 
with a predetermined discontent, which nothing could 
satisfy; whilst we accused every measure of vigor as 

2 5 cruel, and every proposal of lenity as weak and irreso 


lute. The public, he said, would not have patience to 
see us play the game out with our adversaries; we 
must produce our hand. It would be expected that 
those who for many years had been active in such 
affairs should show that they had formed some clear 5 
and decided idea of the principles of Colony govern 
ment; and were capable of drawing out something 
like a platform of the ground which might be laid for 
future and permanent tranquillity. 

I felt the truth of what my honorable friend repre- 14 
sented; but I felt my situation too. His application 
might have been made with far greater propriety to 
many other gentlemen. No man was indeed ever 
better disposed, or worse qualified, for such an under 
taking than myself. Though I gave so far in to his 15 
opinion that I immediately threw my thoughts into 
a sort of Parliamentary form, I was by no means 
equally ready to produce them. It generally argues 
some degree of natural impotence of mind, or some 
want of knowledge of the world, to hazard plans of 24 
government except from a seat of authority. Propo 
sitions are made, not only ineffectually, but somewhat 
disreputably, when the minds of men are not properly 
disposed for their reception ; and, for my part, I am 
not ambitious of ridicule not absolutely a candidate * 
for disgrace. 


Besides, Sir, to speak the plain truth, I have in 
general no very exalted opinion of the virtue of paper 
government ; nor of any politics in which the plan is 
to be wholly separated from the execution. But when 

5 I saw that anger and violence prevailed every day more 
and more, and that things were hastening towards an 
incurable alienation of our Colonies, I confess my cau 
tion gave way. I felt this as one of those few moments 
in which decorum yields to a higher duty. Public ca- 

10 lamity is a mighty leveller ; and there are occasions 

when any, even the slightest, chance of doing good must 

be laid hold on, even by the most inconsiderable person. 

To restore order and repose to an empire so great 

and so distracted as ours, is, merely in the attempt, 

15 an undertaking that would ennoble the nights of the 
highest genius, and obtain pardon for the efforts of 
the meanest understanding. Struggling a good while 
with these thoughts, by degrees I felt myself more 
firm. I derived, at length, some confidence from what 

20 in other circumstances usually produces timidity. I 
grew less anxious, even from the idea of my own in 
significance. For, judging of what you are by what 
you ought to be, I persuaded myself that you would 
not reject a reasonable proposition because it had noth- 

25 ing but its reason to recommend it. On the other hand. 


oeing totally destitute of all shadow of influence, nat 
ural or adventitious, I was very sure that, if my propo 
sition were futile or dangerous if it were weakly 
conceived, or improperly timed there was nothing 
exterior to it of power to awe, dazzle, or delude you. \ 
You will see it just as it is ; and you will treat it just 
as it deserves. 

The proposition is peace. Not peace through the 
medium of war ; not peace to be hunted through the 
labyrinth of intricate and endless negotiations ; not 10 
peace to arise out of universal discord fomented, from 
principle, in all parts of the Empire; not peace to 
depend on the juridical determination of perplexing 
questions, or the precise marking the shadowy boun 
daries of a complex government. It is simple peace ; 15 
sought in its natural course, and in its ordinary haunts. 
It is peace sought in the spirit of peace, and laid in 
principles purely pacific. I propose, by removing the 
ground of the difference, and by restoring the former 
unsuspecting confidence of the Colonies in the Mother 20 
Country, to give permanent satisfaction to your peo 
ple ; and (far from a scheme of ruling by discord) to 
reconcile them to each other in the same act and by 
the bond of the very sam6 interest which reconciles 
them to British government. af 


My idea is nothing more. Refined policy ever ha* 
been the parent of confusion; and ever will be so, aa 
long as the world endures. Plain good intention, 
which is as easily discovered at the first view as fraud 

5 is surely detected at last, is, let me say, of no mean 
force in the government of mankind. Genuine sim 
plicity of heart is an healing and cementing principle. 
My plan, therefore, being formed upon the most sim 
ple grounds imaginable, may disappoint some people 

10 when they hear it. It has nothing to recommend it 
to the pruriency of curious ears. There is nothing at 
all new and captivating in it. It has nothing of the 
splendor of the project which has been lately laid 
upon your table by the noble lord in the blue ribbon. 

15 It does not propose to fill your lobby with squabbling 
Colony agents, who will require the interposition of 
your mace, at every instant, to keep the peace amongst 
them. It does not institute a magnificent auction of 
finance, where captivated provinces come to general 

20 ransom by bidding against each other, until you knock 
down the hammer, and determine a proportion of pay 
ments beyond all the powers of algebra to equalize 
and settle. 

The plan which I shall presume to suggest derives, 

25 however, one great advantage from the proposition 


and registry of that noble lord s project. The idea of 
conciliation is admissible. First, the House, in ac 
cepting the resolution moved by the noble lord, has 
admitted, notwithstanding the menacing front of our 
address, notwithstanding our heavy bills of pains and I 
penalties that we do not think ourselves precluded 
from all ideas of free grace and bounty. 

The House has gone farther; it has declared con 
ciliation admissible, previous to any submission on the 
part of America. It has even shot a good deal be- i 
yond that mark, and has admitted that the complaints 
of our former mode of exerting the right of taxation 
were not wholly unfounded. That right thus exerted 
is allowed to have something reprehensible in it, some 
thing unwise, or something grievous; since, in the 15 
midst of our heat and resentment, we, of ourselves, 
have proposed a capital alteration; and in order to 
get rid of what seemed so very exceptionable, have in 
stituted a mode that is altogether new; one that is, 
indeed, wholly alien from all the ancient methods and 
forms of Parliament. 

The principle of this proceeding is large enough for 
my purpose. The means proposed by the noble lord 
for carrying his ideas into execution, I think, indeed, 
are very indifferently suited to the end; and this I *\ 


shall endeavor to show you before I sit down. But, 
for the present, I take my ground on the admitted 
principle. I mean to give peace. Peace implies rec 
onciliation ; and where there has been a material dis- 

3 pute, reconciliation does in a manner always imply 
concession on the one part or on the other. In this 
state of things, I make no difficulty in affirming that 
the proposal ought to originate from us. Great and 
acknowledged force is not impaired, either in effect or 

10 in opinion, by an unwillingness to exert itself. The 
superior power may offer peace with honor and with 
safety. Such an offer from such a power will be at 
tributed to magnanimity. But the concessions of the 
weak are the concessions of fear. When such a one 

5 is disarmed, he is wholly at the mercy of his superior; 
and he loses forever that time and those chances, 
which, as they happen to all men. are the strength and 
resources of all inferior power. 

The capital leading questions on which you must 

20 this day decide are these two: First, whether you 
ought to concede ; and secondly, what your concession 
ought to be. On the first of these questions we have 
gained, as I have just taken the liberty of observing 
to you, some ground. But I am sensible that a good 

25 deal more is still to be done. Indeed, Sir, to enable 



as to determine both on the one and the other of 

these great questions with a firm and precise judg 
ment, I think it may be necessary to consider dis 
tinctly the true nature and the peculiar circumstances 
of the object which we have before us ; because after \ 
all our struggle, whether we will or not, we must gov 
ern America according to that nature and to those 
circumstances, and not according to our own imagina 
tions, nor according to abstract ideas of right by no 
means according to mere general theories of govern- M 
ment, the resort to which appears to me, in our pres 
ent situation, no better than arrant trifling. I shall 
therefore endeavor, with your leave, to lay before you 
some of the most material of these circumstances in 
as full and as clear a manner as I am able to state 15 

The first thing that we have to consider with regard 
to the nature of the object is the number of people 
in the Colonies. I have taken for some years a good 
deal of pains on that point. I can by no calculation 29 
justify myself in placing the number below two mill 
ions of inhabitants of our own European blood and 
color, besides at least five hundred thousand others, 
who form no inconsiderable part of the strength and 
opulence of the whole. This, Sir, is, I believe, about 25 


the true number. There is no occasion to exaggerate 

where plain truth is of so much weight and impor 
tance. But whether I put the present numbers too 
high or too low is a matter of little moment. Such is 

5 the strength with which population shoots in that part 
of the world, that, state the numbers as high as we 
will, whilst the dispute continues, the exaggeration 
ends. Whilst we are discussing any given magnitude, 
they are grown to it. Whilst we spend our time in 

10 deliberating on the mode of governing two millions, 
we shall find we have millions more to manage. Your 
children do not grow faster from infancy to manhood 
than they spread from families to communities, and 
from villages to nations. 

15 I put this consideration of the present and the gro. 
ing numbers in the front of our deliberation, because, 
Sir, this consideration will make it evident to a blunter 
discernment than yours, that no partial, narrow, con 
tracted, pinched, occasional system will be at all suit- 

20 able to such an object. It will show you that it is not 
to be considered as one of those minima which are out 
of the eye and consideration of the law ; not a paltry 
excrescence of the state ; not a mean dependent, who 
may be neglected with little damage and provoked with 

25 little danger. It will prove that some degree of care 


and caution is required in the handling such an object ; 
it will show that you ought not, in reason, to trifle with 
so large a mass of the interests and feelings of the 
human race. You could at no time do so without 
guilt; and be assured you will not be able to do it 5 
long with impunity. 

But the population of this country, the great and 
growing population, though a very important con 
sideration, will lose much of its weight if not com 
bined with other circumstances. The commerce of 
your Colonies is out of all proportion beyond the 
numbers of the people. This ground of their com 
merce indeed has been trod some days ago, and with 
great ability, by a distinguished person at your bar. 
This gentleman, after thirty-five years it is so long 15 
since he first appeared at the same place to plead for 
the commerce of Great Britain has come again be 
fore you to plead the same cause, without any other 
effect of time, than that to the fire of imagination and 
extent of erudition which even then marked him as 20 
one of the first literary characters of his age, he has 
added a consummate knowledge in the commercial 
interest of his country, formed by a long course of en 
lightened and discriminating experience. 
, Sir, I should be inexcusable in coming after such a 25 


person with any detail, if a great part of the members 
who now fill the House had not the misfortune to be 
absent when he appeared at your bar. Besides, Sir, 1 
propose to take the matter at periods of time some- 

5 what different from his. There is, if I mistake not, a 
point of view from whence, if you will look at the 
subject, it is impossible that it should not make an 
impression upon you. 

I have in my hand two accounts ; one a comparative 

10 state of the export trade of England to its Colonies, as 
it stood in the year 1704, and as it stood in the year 
1772; the other a state of the export trade of this 
country to its Colonies alone, as it stood in 1772, com 
pared with the whole trade of England to all parts of 

15 the world (the Colonies included) in the year 1704. 
They are from good vouchers ; the latter period from 
the accounts on your table, the earlier from an original 
manuscript of Davenant, who first established the 
Inspector-General s office, which has been ever since 

20 his time so abundant a source of Parliamentary in 

The export trade to the Colonies consists of three 
great branches: the African which, terminating 
almost wholly in the Colonies, must be put to the 

*5 account of their commerce, the West Indian, and 


the North American. All these are so interwoven 
that the attempt to separate them would tear to pieces 
the contexture of the whole ; and, if not entirely de 
stroy, would very much depreciate the value of all the 
parts. I therefore consider these three denominations 
to be, what in effect they are, one trade. 

The trade to the Colonies, taken on the export side, 
at the beginning of this century, that is, in the year 
1704, stood thus : - 

Exports to North America and the West Indies . 483,265 
To Africa 86,665 


In the year 1772, which I take as a middle year be 
tween the highest and lowest of those lately laid on 
your table, the account was as follows : 15 

To North America and the West Indies . . 4,791,734 

To Africa , 866,398 

To which, if you add the export trade from 

Scotland, which had in 1704 no existence . 364,000 

6,022,132 20 

From five hundred and odd thousand, it has grown 
to six millions. It has increased no less than twelve 
fold. This is the state of the Colony trade as com 
pared with itself at these two periods within this 


century ; and this is matter for meditation. But 
this is not all. Examine my second account. See 
how the export trade to the Colonies alone in 1772 
stood in the other point of view ; that is, as compared 
5 to the whole trade of England in 1704 : 

The whole export trade of England, including 

that to the Colonies, in 1704 6,509,000 

Export to the Colonies alone, in 1772 . . . 6,024,000 

Difference, 485,000 

10 The trade with America alone is now within less 
than 500,000 of being equal to what this great com 
mercial nation, England, carried on at the beginning 
of this century with the whole world ! If I had taken 
the largest year of those on your table, it would rather 

15 have exceeded. But, it will be said, is not this Ameri 
can trade an unnatural protuberance, that has drawn 
the juices from the rest of the body ? The reverse. 
It is the very food that has nourished every other 
part into its present magnitude. Our general trade 

20 has been greatly augmented, and augmented more or 
less in almost every part to which it ever extended ; 
but with this material difference, that of the six 
millions which in the beginning of the century con 
stituted the whole mass of our export commerce, the 


Colony trade was but one-twelfth part; it is now (as 
a part of sixteen millions) considerably more than a 
third of the whole. This is the relative proportion of 
the importance of the Colonies at these two periods ; 
and all reasoning concerning our mode of treating 5 
them must have this proportion as its basis ; or it is 
a reasoning weak, rotten, and sophistical. 

Mr. Speaker, I cannot prevail on myself to hurry 
over iMs great consideration. It is good for us to be 
here. We stand where we have an immense view of J0 
what is, and what is past. Clouds, indeed, and dark 
ness, rest upon the future. Let us, however, before 
we descend from this noble eminence, reflect that this 
growth of our national prosperity has happened within 
the short period of the life of man. It has happened 15 
within sixty-eight years. There are those alive whose 
memory might touch the two extremities. For in 
stance, my Lord Bathurst might remember all the 
stages of the progress. He was in 1704 of an age at 
least to be made to comprehend such things. He was 20 
then old enough acta parentum jam legere, et quce sit 
potuit cognoscere virtus. Suppose, Sir, that the angel 
of this auspicious youth, foreseeing the many virtues 
which made him one of the most amiable, as he is one 
of the most fortunate, men of his age, had opened to 25 


him in vision that when in the fourth generation the 
third Prince of the House of Brunswick had sat twelve 
years on the throne of that nation which, by the happy 
issue of moderate and healing counsels, was to be made 
Great Britain, he should see his son, Lord Chancellor 
of England, turn back the current of hereditary dig 
nity to its fountain, and raise him to a higher rank of 
peerage, whilst he enriched the family with a new one 
if, amidst these bright and happy scenes of domestic 
honor and prosperity, that angel should have drawn 
up the curtain, and unfolded the rising glories of his 
country, and, whilst he was gazing with admiration 
on the then commercial grandeur of England, the 
genius should point out to him a little speck, scarcely 
visible in the mass of the national interest, a small 
seminal principle, rather than a formed body, and 
should tell him : " Young man, there is America 
which at this day serves for little more than to 
amuse you with stories of savage men, and uncouth 
manners ; yet shall, before you taste of death, show 
itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now 
attracts the envy of the world. Whatever England 
has been growing to by a progressive increase of 
improvement, brought in by varieties of people, by 
succession of civilizing conquests and civilizing settle- 


ments in a series of seventeen hundred years, you 
shall see as much added to her by America in the 
course of a single life ! " If this state of his country 
had been foretold to him, would it not require all the 
sanguine credulity of youth, and all the fervid glow of 5 
enthusiasm, to make him believe it ? Fortunate man, 
he has lived to see it ! Fortunate, indeed, if he lives 
to see nothing that shall vary the prospect, and cloud 
the setting of his day ! 

Excuse me, Sir, if turning from such thoughts I 10 
resume this comparative view once more. You have 
seen it on a large scale ; look at it on a small one. I 
will point out to your attention a particular instance 
of it in the single province of Pennsylvania. In the 
year 1704 that province called for 11,459 in value of 15 
your commodities, native and foreign. This was the 
whole. What did it demand in 1772 ? Why, nearly 
fifty times as much; for in that year the export to 
Pennsylvania was 507,909, nearly equal to the ex 
port to all the Colonies together in the first period. 20 

I choose, Sir, to enter into these minute and par 
ticular details, because generalities, which in all other 
cases are apt to heighten and raise the subject, have 
here a tendency to sink it. When we s^eak of the 
commerce with our Colonies, fiction lags after truth, 2 5 


invention is unfruitful, and imagination cold and 

So far, Sir, as to the importance of the object, in 
view of its commerce, as concerned in the exports from 

5 England. If I were to detail the imports, I could 
show how many enjoyments they procure which de 
ceive the burthen of life ; how many materials which 
invigorate the springs of national industry, and ex 
tend and animate every part of our foreign and do- 

10 mestic commerce. This would be a curious subject 
indeed; but I must prescribe bounds to myself in a 
matter so vast and various. 

I pass, therefore, to the Colonies in another point 
of view, their agriculture. This they have prosecuted 

15 with such a spirit, that, besides feeding plentifully 
their own growing multitude, their annual export of 
grain, comprehending rice, has some years ago ex 
ceeded a million in value. Of their last harvest I 
am persuaded they will export much more. At the 

20 beginning of the century some of these Colonies im 
ported corn from the Mother Country. For some time 
past the Old World has been fed from the New. The 
scarcity which you have felt would have been a deso- 
""ating famine, if this child of your old age, with a true 

25 filial piety, with a Eoman charity, had not put the 


full breast of its youthful exuberance to the mouth 
of its exhausted parent. 

As to the wealth which the Colonies have drawn 
from the sea by their fisheries, you had all that matter 
fully opened at your bar. You surely thought those J 
acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite 
your envy; and yet the spirit by which that enter 
prising employment has been exercised ought rather, 
in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and admira 
tion. And pray, Sir, what in the world is equal to 10 
it ? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner 
in which the people of New England have of late car 
ried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them 
among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold 
them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of 15 
Hudson s Bay and Davis s Straits, whilst we are look 
ing for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that 
they have pierced into the opposite region of polar 
cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged 
under the frozen Serpent of the south. Falkland 29 
Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an ob 
ject for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage 
and resting-place in the progress of their victorious 
industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discour 
aging to them than the accumulated winter of both q 


the poles. We know that whilst some of them 
the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, 
others run the longitude and pursue their gigantic 
game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is 

5 vexed by their fisheries ; no climate that is not wit 
ness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Hol 
land, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous 
and firm sagacity of English enterprise ever carried 
this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the ex- 

10 tent to which it has been pushed by this recent peo 
ple; a people who are still, as it were, but in the 
gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of man 
hood. When I contemplate these things; when I 
know that the Colonies in general owe little or noth- 

15 ing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed 
into this happy form by the constraints of watchful 
and suspicious government, but that, through a wise 
and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suf 
fered to take her own way to perfection ; when I re- 

20 fleet upon these effects, when I see how profitable 
they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power 
sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human 
contrivances melt and die away within me. My rigor 
relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty. 

25 I am sensible, Sir, that all which I have asserted in 


my detail is admitted in the gross ; but that quite a 
different conclusion is drawn from it. America, gen 
tlemen say, is a noble object. It is an object well 
worth fighting for. Certainly it is, if fighting a peo 
ple be the best way of gaining them. Gentlemen in 5 
this respect will be led to their choice of means by 
their complexions and their habits. Those who 
understand the military art will of course have some 
predilection for it. Those who wield the thunder of 
the state may have more confidence in the efficacy of 10 
arms. But I confess, possibly for want of this knowl 
edge, my opinion is much more in favor of prudent 
management than of force ; considering force not as 
an odious, but a feeble instrument for preserving a 
people so numerous, so active, so growing, so spirited 15 
as this, in a profitable and subordinate connection 
with us. 

First, Sir, permit me to observe that the use of force 
alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment, 
but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again ; 20 
and a nation is not governed which is perpetually to 
be conquered. 

My next objection is its uncertainty. Terror is not 
always the effect of force, and an armament is not a 
victoryi If you do not succeed, you are without re- 25 


source 5 for, conciliation failing, force remains; but, 
force failing, no further hope of reconciliation is left. 
Power and authority are sometimes bought by kind 
ness ; but they can never be begged as alms by an 

5 impoverished and defeated violence. 

A further objection to force is, that you impair the 
object by your very endeavors to preserve it. The 
thing you fought for is not the thing which you re 
cover ; but depreciated, sunk, wasted, and consumed 

10 in the contest. Nothing less will content me than 
whole America. I do not choose to consume its 
strength along with our own, because in all parts it 
is the British strength that I consume. I do not 
choose to be caught by a foreign enemy at the end 

15 of this exhausting conflict ; and still less in the midst 
of it.. I may escape ; but I can make no insurance 
against such an event. Let me add, that I do not 
choose wholly to break the American spirit ; because 
it is the spirit that has made the country. 

2a Lastly, we have no sort of experience in favor of 
force as an instrument in the rule of our Colonies. 
Their growth and their utility has been owing to 
methods altogether different. Our ancient indulgence 
has been said to be pursued to a fault. It may be so. 

5 But we know if feeling is evidence, that our fault waa 


more tolerable than our attempt to mend it ; and our 
sin far more salutary than our penitence. 

These, Sir, are my reasons for not entertaining that 
ligh opinion of untried force by which many gentle 
men, for whose sentiments in other particulars I have 
;reat respect, seem to be so greatly captivated. But 
;here is still behind a third consideration concerning 
;his object which serves to determine my opinion on 
sort of policy which ought to be pursued in the man 
agement of America, even more than its population and :a 
its commerce I mean its temper and character. 

In this character of the Americans, a lo\ e of free 
dom is the predominating feature which marks and 
distinguishes the whole; and as an ardent is always 
a jealous affection, your Colonies become suspicious, 15 
restive, and untractable whenever they see the least 
attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from 
them by chicane, what they think the only advantage 
worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is 
stronger in the English Colonies probably than in ^ 
any other people of the earth, and this from a great 
variety of powerful causes ; which, to understand the 
true temper of their minds and the direction which 
this spirit takes, it will not be amiss to lay open some 
what more largely. 2: 


First, the people of the Colonies are descendants ot 
Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation which still, I 
hope, respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. 
The Colonists emigrated from you when this part of ( 
your character was most predominant ; and the3 r took; 
this bias and direction the moment they parted from 
your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to 
liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and] 
on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other: 

10 mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres 
in some sensible object ; and every nation has formed! 
to itself some favorite point, which by way of emi 
nence becomes the criterion of their happiness. It ! 
happened, you know, Sir, that the great contests for 

15 freedom in this country were from the earliest times 
chiefly upon the question of taxing. Most of the con 
tests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily 
on the right of election of magistrates; or on the 
balance among the several orders of the state. The 

20 question of money was not with them so immediate. 
But in England it was otherwise. On this point of 
taxes the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues, 
have been exercised ; the greatest spirits have acted 
and suffered. In order to give the fullest satisfaction 

^ concerning the importance of this point, it was not 


only necessary for those who in argument defended 
the excellence of the English Constitution to insist on 
this privilege of granting money as a dry point of fact, 
and to prove that the right had been acknowledged in 
ancient parchments and blind usages to reside in a. 5 
certain body called a House of Commons. They went 
much farther ; they attempted to prove, and they suc 
ceeded, that in theory it ought to be so, from the par 
ticular nature of a House of Commons as an immediate 
representative of the people, whether the old records ic 
had delivered this oracle or not. They took infinite 
pains to inculcate, as a fundamental principle, that in 
all monarchies the people must in effect themselves, 
mediately or immediately, possess the power of grant 
ing their own money, or no shadow of liberty can 15 
subsist. The Colonies draw from you, as with their 
life-blood, these ideas and principles. Their love of 
liberty, as with you, fixed and attached on this specific 
point of taxing. Liberty might be safe, or might be 
endangered, in twenty other particulars, without their 20 
being mush pleased or alarmed. Here they felt its 
pulse ; and as they found that beat, they thought 
themselves sick or sound. I do not say whether they 
were right or wrong in applying your general argu 
ments to their own case. It is not easy, indeed, to 25 


make a monopoly of theorems and corollaries. The 
fact is, that they did thus apply those general argu< 
merits; and your mode of governing them, whether 
through lenity or indolence, through wisdom or mis- 

5 take, confirmed them in the imagination that they, as 
well as you, had an interest in these common prin 

They were further confirmed in this pleasing error 
by the form of their provincial legislative assemblies. 

10 Their governments are popular in an high degree ; some 
are merely popular ; in all, the popular representative 
is the most weighty ; and this share of the people in 
their ordinary government never fails to inspire them 
with lofty sentiments, and with a strong aversion from 

15 whatever tends to deprive them of their chief im 

If anything were wanting to this necessary operation 
of the form of government, religion would have given 
it a complete effect. Religion, always a principle of 

20 energy, in this new people is no way worn out or im- 
paired; and their mode of professing it is also one 
main cause of this free spirit. The people are Protes 
tants ; and of that kind which is the most adverse to 
all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This is 

25 a persuasion not only favorable to liberty, but built 


upon it. I do riot think, Sir, that the reason of this 
averseness in the dissenting churches from all that 
looks like absolute government is so much to be sought 
in their religious tenets, as in their history. Every 
one knows that the Roman Catholic religion is at least 5 
co-eval with most of the governments where it pre 
vails ; that it has generally gone hand in hand with 
them, and received great favor and every kind of sup 
port from authority. The Church of England too was 
formed from her cradle under the nursing care of 10 
regular government. But the dissenting interests 
have sprung up in direct opposition to all the ordinary 
powers of the world, and could justify that opposition 
only on a strong claim to natural liberty. Their very 
existence depended on the powerful and un remitted 15 
assertion of that claim. All Protestantism, even the 
most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the 
religion most prevalent in our Northern Colonies is a 
refinement on the principle of resistance; it is the 
dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the 20 
Protestant religion. This religion, under a variety of 
denominations agreeing in nothing but in the com 
munion of the spirit of liberty, is predominant in most 
of the Northern Provinces, where the Church of Eng 
land, notwithstanding its legal rights, is in reality no 2; 


more than a sort of private sect, not composing most 
probably the tenth of the people. The Colonists left 
England when this spirit was high, and in the emi 
grants was the highest of all ; and even that stream 

5 of foreigners which has been constantly flowing into 
these Colonies has, for the greatest part, been com 
posed of dissenters from the establishments of their 
several countries, who have brought with them a 
temper and character far from alien to that of the 

to people with whom they mixed. 

Sir, I can perceive by their manner that some 
gentlemen object to the latitude of this description, 
because in the Southern Colonies the Church of Eng 
land forms a large body, and has a regular establish- 

5 ment. It is certainly true. There is, however, a 
circumstance attending these Colonies which, in my 
opinion, fully counterbalances this difference, and 
makes the spirit of liberty still more high and 
haughty than in those to the northward. It is thati 

20 in Virginia and the Carol mas they have a vast multi 
tude of slaves. Where this is the case in any part of 
the world, those who are free are by far the most 
proud and jealous of their freedom. Freedom is to 
them not only an enjoyment, but a kind of rank and 

25 privilege. Not seeing there, that freedom, as in 


countries where it is a common blessing and as broad 
and general as the air, may be united with much 
abject toil, with great misery, with all the exterior 
of servitude ; liberty looks, amongst them, like some 
thing that is more noble and liberal. I do not mean, \ 
Sir, to commend the superior morality of this senti 
ment, which has at least as much pride as virtue in 
it; but I cannot alter the nature of man. The fact 
is so ; and these people of the Southern Colonies are 
much more strongly, and with an higher and more 10 
stubborn spirit, attached to liberty than those to the 
northward. Such were all the ancient commonwealths ; 
such were our Gothic ancestors; such in our days were 
the Poles ; and such will be all masters of slaves, 
who are not slaves themselves. In such a people the 15 
haughtiness of domination combines with the spirit of 
freedom, fortifies it, and renders it invincible. 

Permit me, Sir, to add another circumstance in our 
Colonies which contributes no mean part towards the 
growth and effect of this untractable spirit. I mean 20 
their education. In no country perhaps in the world 
is the law so general a study. The profession itself 
is numerous and powerful ; and in most provinces it 
takes the lead. The greater number of the deputies 
sent to the Congress were lawyers. But all who read, 2? 


and most do read, endeavor to obtain some smattering 
in that science. I have been told by an eminent 
bookseller, that in no branch of his business, after 
tracts of popular devotion, were so many books as 
those on the law exported to the Plantations. The 
Colonists have now fallen into the way of printing 
them for their own use. I hear that they have sold 
nearly as many of Blackstone s Commentaries in 
America as in England. General Gage marks out 
o this disposition very particularly in a letter on your 
table. He states that all the people in his govern 
ment are lawyers, or smatterers in law ; and that in 
Boston they have been enabled, by successful chicane, 
wholly to evade many parts of one of your capital 
5 penal constitutions. The smartness of debate will say 
that this knowledge ought to teach them more clearly 
the rights of legislature, their obligations to obedience, 
and the penalties of rebellion. All this is mighty 
well. But my honorable and learned friend on the 
20 floor, who condescends to mark what I say for animad 
version, will disdain that ground. He has heard, as 
well as I, that when great honors and great emolu 
ments do not win over this knowledge to the service 
of the state, it is a formidable adversary to govern- 
as ment If the spirit be not tamed and broken by these 


happy methods, it is stubborn and litigious. Abeunt 
studia in mores? This study renders men acute, in 
quisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, 
full of resources. In other countries, the people, more 
simple, and of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill 
principle in government only by an actual grievance ; 
here they anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure 
of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They 
augur misgovernment at a distance, and snuff the ap 
proach of tyranny in every tainted breeze. 

The last cause of this disobedient spirit in the 
Colonies is hardly less powerful than the rest, as it is 
not merely moral, but laid deep in the natural consti 
tution of things. Three thousand miles of ocean lie 
between you and them. No contrivance can prevent 
the effect of this distance in weakening government. 
Seas roll, and months pass, between the order and the 
execution ^ and the want of a speedy explanation of a 
single point is enough to defeat a whole system. You 
have, indeed, winged ministers of vengeance, who 
carry your bolts in their pounces to the remotest 
verge of the sea. But there a power steps in that 
limits the arrogance of raging passions and furious 
elements, and says, So far shall thou go, and no farther. 
Who are you, that you should fret and rage, and bite 



the chain? of nature ? Nothing worse happens to 
than does to all nations who have extensive empire 
and it happens in all the forms into which empire can 
be thrown. In large bodies the circulation of power 

5 must be less vigorous at the extremities. Nature has 
said it. The Turk cannot govern Egypt and Arabia 
and Kurdistan as he governs Thrace ; nor has he the 
same dominion in Crimea and Algiers which he has at 
Brusa and Smyrna. Despotism itself is obliged to 

10 truck and huckster. The Sultan gets such obedience 
as he can. He governs with a loose rein, that he may 
govern at all ; and the whole of the force and vigor of 
his authority in his centre is derived from a prudent 
relaxation in all his borders. Spain, in her provinces, 

15 is, perhaps, not so well obeyed as you are in yours. 
She complies, too ; she submits ; she watches times. 
This is the immutable condition, the eternal law of 
extensive and detached empire. 

Then, Sir, from these six capital sources of de- 

-50 scent, of form of government, of religion in the North 
ern Provinces, of manners in the Southern, of education., 
of the remoteness of situation from the first mover of 
government from all these causes a fierce spirit of 
liberty has grown up. It has grown with the growth 

? 5 of the people in your Colonies, and increased with the 


increase of their wealth ; a spirit that unhappily meet 
ing with an exercise of power in England which, how 
ever lawful, is not reconcilable to any ideas of liberty, 
much less with theirs, has kindled this flame that is 
ready to consume us. S 

I do not mean to commend either the spirit in this 
excess, or the moral causes which produce it. Perhaps 
a more smooth and accommodating spirit of freedom 
in them would be more acceptable to us. Perhaps 
ideas of liberty might be desired more reconcilable 10 
with an arbitrary and boundless authority. Perhaps 
we might wish the Colonists to be persuaded that 
their liberty is more secure when held in trust for 
them by us, as their guardians during a perpetual 
minority, than with any part of it in their own hands. 15 
The question is, not whether their spirit deserves 
praise or blame, but what, in the name of God, shall 
we do with it ? You have before you the object, such 
as it is, with all its glories, with all its imperfections 
on its head. You see the magnitude, the importance, 2<t 
the temper, the habits, the disorders. By all these 
considerations we are strongly urged to determine 
something concerning it. We are called upon to fix 
some rule and line for our future conduct which may 
give a little stability to our politics, and prevent the 25 


return of such unhappy deliberations as the present 
Every such return will bring the matter before us in 
a still more untractable form. Tor, what astonishing 
and incredible things have we not seen already ! What 

5 monsters have not been generated from this unnatural 
contention ! Whilst every principle of authority and. 
resistance has been pushed, upon both sides, as far as 
it would go, there is nothing so solid and certain, 
either in reasoning or in practice, that has not been 

10 shaken. Until very lately all authority in America 
seemed to be nothing but an emanation from yours. 
Even the popular part of the Colony Constitution 
derived all its activity and its first vital movement 
from the pleasure of the Crown. We thought, Sir 

is that the utmost which the discontented Colonies could 
do was to disturb authority ; we never dreamt they 
could of themselves supply it knowing in general 
what an operose business it is to establish a govern 
ment absolutely new. But having, for our purposes 

20 in this contention, resolved that none but an obedient 
Assembly should sit, the humors of the people there, 
finding all passage through the legal channel stopped, 
with great violence broke out another way. Some 
provinces have tried their experiment, as we have tried 

25 ours; and theirs has succeeded. They have formed a 


government sufficient for its purposes, without the 
bustle of a revolution or the formality of an election. 
Evident necessity and tacit consent have done the 
business in an instant. So well they have done it, 
that Lord Dunmore the account is among the frag- $ 
ments on your table tells you that the new insti 
tution is infinitely better obeyed than the ancient 
government ever was in its most fortunate periods. 
Obedience is what makes government, and not the 
names by which it is called ; not the name of Gov- 10 
ernor, as formerly, or Committee, as at present. This 
new government has originated directly from the peo 
ple, and was not transmitted through any of the ordi 
nary artificial media of a positive constitution. It 
was not a manufacture ready formed, and transmitted 15 
to them in that condition from England. The evil 
arising from hence is this ; that the Colonists having 
once found the possibility of enjoying the advantages 
of order in the midst of a struggle for liberty, such 
struggles will not henceforward seem so terrible to 2c 
the settled and sober part of mankind as they had 
appeared before the trial. 

Pursuing the same plan of punishing by the denial 
of the exercise of government to still greater lengths, 
we wholly abrogated the ancient government of Mas- 2? 


sachusetts. We were confident that the first feeling 
if not the very prospect, of anarchy would instantly 
enforce a complete submission. The experiment was 
tried. A new, strange, unexpected face of things ap- 

3 peared. Anarchy is found tolerable. A vast province 
has now subsisted, and subsisted in a considerable 
degree of health and vigor for near a twelvemonth, 
without Governor, without public Council, without 
judges, without executive magistrates. How long it 

i will continue in this state, or what may arise out of 
this unheard-of situation, how can the wisest of us 
conjecture? Our late experience has taught us that 
many of those fundamental principles, formerly be 
lieved infallible, are either not of the importance they 

-5 were imagined to be, or that we have not at all ad 
verted to some other far more important and far more 
powerful principles, which entirely overrule those we 
had considered as omnipotent. I am much against 
any further experiments which tend to put to the 

20 proof any more of these allowed opinions which con 
tribute so much to the public tranquillity. In effect 
we suffer as much at home by this loosening of all 
ties, and this concussion of all established opinions, 
as we do abroad ; for in order to prove that the Ameri- 

25 cans have no right to their liberties, we are every 


day endeavoring to subvert the maxims which pre 
serve the whole spirit of our own. To prove that the 
Americans ought not to be free, we are obliged to 
depreciate the value of freedom itself j and we never 
seem to gain a paltry advantage over them in debate 3 
without attacking some of those principles, or derid 
ing some of those feelings, for which our ancestors 
have shed their blood. 

But, Sir, in wishing to put an end to pernicious ex 
periments, I do not mean to preclude the fullest in- T* 
quiry. Far from it. Far from deciding on a sudden 
or partial view, I would patiently go round and round 
the subject, and survey it minutely in every possible 
aspect. Sir, if I were capable of engaging you to an 
equal attention, I would state that, as far as I am ?> 
capable of discerning, there are but three ways of 
proceeding relative to this stubborn spirit which pre 
vails in your Colonies, and disturbs your government. 
These are to change that spirit, as inconvenient, by 
removing the causes ; to prosecute it as criminal ; or 2. 
to comply with it as necessary. I would not be guilty 
of an imperfect enumeration ; I can think of but these 
three. Another has indeed been started, that of 
giving up the Colonies ; but it met so slight a recep 
tion that I do not think myself obliged to dwell a 2j 


great while upon it. It is nothing but a little sally 
of anger, like the frowardness of peevish children 
who, when they cannot get all they would have, are 
resolved to take nothing. 

The first of these plans to change the spirit, as 
inconvenient, by removing the causes I think is the 
most like a systematic proceeding. It is radical in its 
principle ; but it is attended with great difficulties, 
some of them little short, as I conceive, of impossi- 

.o bilities. This will appear by examining into the 
plans which have been proposed. 

As the growing population in the Colonies is ovi 
dently one cause of their resistance, it was last session 
mentioned in both Houses, by men of weight, and 

15 received not without applause, that in order to check 
this evil it would be proper for the Crown to make no 
further grants of land. But to this scheme there are 
two objections. The first, that there is already so 
much unsettled land in private hands as to afford 

20 room for an immense future population, although the 
Crown not only withheld its grants, but annihilated 
its soil. If this be the case, then the only effect of 
this avarice of desolation, this hoarding of a royal 
wilderness, would be to raise the value of the posses- 

25 sions in the hands of the great private monopolists 


without any adequate check to the growing and alarm 
ing mischief of population. 

But if you stopped your grants, what would be 
the consequence ? The people would occupy without 
grants. They have already so occupied in manj 
places. You cannot station garrisons in ^very part 
of these deserts. If you drive the people from one 
place, they will carry on their annual tillage, and 
remove with their flocks and herds to another. Many 
of the people in the back settlements are already little K 
attached to particular situations. Already they have 
topped the Appalachian Mountains. From thence they 
behold before them an immense plain, one vast, rich, 
level meadow ; a square of five hundred miles. Over 
this they would wander without a possibility of re 
straint; they would change their manners with the 
habits of their life ; would soon forget a government 
by which they were disowned ; would become hordes 
of English Tartars ; and, pouring down upon your 
unfortified frontiers a fierce and irresistible cavalry, 26 
become masters of your governors and your counsel 
lors, your collectors and comptrollers, and of all the 
slaves that adhered to them. Such would, and in no 
ong time must be, the effect of attempting to forbid 
as a crime and to suppress as an evil the command 2j 


and blessing of providence, Increase and multiply 
Such would be the happy result of the endeavor to 
keep as a lair of wild beasts that earth which God, 
by an express charter, has given to the children of 

5 men. Ear different, and surely much wiser, has been 
our policy hitherto. Hitherto we have invited our 
people, by every kind of bounty, to fixed establish 
ments. We have invited the husbandman to look 
to authority for his title. We have taught him 

10 piously to believe in the mysterious virtue of wax 
and parchment. We have thrown each tract of land, 
as it was peopled, into districts, that the ruling power 
should never be wholly out of sight. We have set 
tled all we could ; and we have carefully attended 

15 every settlement with government. 

Adhering, Sir, as I do, to this policy, as well as for 
the reasons I have just given, I think this new project 
of hedging-in population to be neither prudent nor 

20 To impoverish the Colonies in general, and in par 
ticular to arrest the noble course of their marine enter 
prises, would be a more easy task. I freely confess 
it. We have shown a disposition to a system of this 
kind, a disposition even to continue the restraint after 

25 the offence, looking on ourselves as rivals to our Colo* 


nies, and persuaded that of course we must gain all 
that they shall lose. Much mischief we may certainly 
do. The power inadequate to all other things is often 
more than sufficient for this. I do not look on the 
direct and immediate power of the Colonies to resist S 
our violence as very formidable. In this, however, 
I may be mistaken. But when I consider that we 
have Colonies for no purpose but to be serviceable to 
us, it seems to my poor understanding a little pre 
posterous to make them unserviceable in order to ia 
keep them obedient. It is, in truth, nothing more 
than the old and, as I thought, exploded problem of 
tyranny, which proposes to beggar its subjects into 
submission. But remember, when you have com 
pleted your system of impoverishment, that nature 15 
still proceeds in her ordinary course ; that discontent 
will increase with misery ; and that there are critical 
moments in the fortune of all states when they who 
are too weak to contribute to your prosperity may be 
strong enough to complete your ruin. Spoliatis arma 20 
super sunt 

The temper and character which prevail in our Col 
onies are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. 
We cannot, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce 
people, and persuade them that they are not sprung 2$ 


from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom 
circulates. The language in which they would heai 
you tell them this tale would detect the imposition; 
your speech would betray you. An Englishman is 
the unfittest person on earth to argue another Eng 
lishman into slavery. 

I think it is nearly as little in our power to change 
their republican religion as their free descent ; or to 
substitute the Roman Catholic as a penalty, or the 
Church of England as an improvement. The mode 
of inquisition and dragooning is going out of fashion 
in the Old World, and I should not confide much to 
their efficacy in the New. The education of the 
Americans is also on the same unalterable bottom 
with their religion. You cannot persuade them to 
burn their books of curious science ; to banish their 
lawyers from their courts of laws ; or to quench the 
lights of their assemblies by refusing to choose those 
persons who are best read in their privileges. It 
would be no less impracticable to think of wholly 
annihilating the popular assemblies in which these 
lawyers sit. The army, by which we must govern in 
their place, would be far more chargeable to us, not 
quite so effectual, and perhaps in the end full as cliffi- 
cult to be kept in obedience. 


With regard to the high, aristocratic spirit of Vir 
ginia and the Southern Colonies, it has been proposed, 
I know, to reduce it by declaring a general enfran 
chisement of their slaves. This object has had its ad 
vocates and panegyrists ; yet I never could argue myself 5 
into any opinion of it. Slaves are often much attached 
to their masters. A general wild offer of liberty would 
not always be accepted. History furnishes few in 
stances of it. It is sometimes as hard to persuade 
slaves to be free, as it is to compel freemen to be 10 
slaves ; and in this auspicious scheme we should have 
both these pleasing tasks on our hands at once. But 
when we talk of enfranchisement, do we not perceive 
that the American master may enfranchise too, and 
arm servile hands in defence of freedom ? a measure 15 
to which other people have had recourse more than 
once, and not without success, in a desperate situation 
of their affairs. 

Slaves as these unfortunate black people are, and 
dull as all men are from slavery, must they not a little ao 
suspect the offer of freedom from that very nation 
which has sold them to their present masters ? from 
that nation, one of whose causes of quarrel with those 
masters is their refusal to deal any more in that in 
human traffic ? An offer of freedom from England 25 


would come rather oddly, shipped to them in an Afri 
can vessel which is refused an entry into the ports oi 
Virginia or Carolina with a cargo of three hundred 
Angola negroes. It would be curious to see the Guinea 

5 captain attempting at the same instant to publish his 
proclamation of liberty, and to advertise his sale of 

But let us suppose all these moral difficulties got 
over. The ocean remains. You cannot pump this 

10 dry ; and as long as it continues in its present bed, 
so long all the causes which weaken authority by 
distance will continue. 

" Ye gods, annihilate but space and time, 
And make two lovers happy ! " 

15 was a pious and passionate prayer ; but just as reason 
able as many of the serious wishes of grave and so 1 
emn politicians. 

If then, Sir, it seems almost desperate to think of 
any alterative course for changing the moral causes, 

20 and not quite easy to remove the natural, which pro 
duce prejudices irreconcilable to the late exercise of 
our authority but that the spirit infallibly will con 
tinue, and, continuing, will produce such effects as 


now embarrass us the second mode under considera 
tion is to prosecute that spirit in its overt acts as 

At this proposition I must pause a moment. The 
thing seems a great deal too big for my ideas of juris- J 
prudence. It should seem to my way of conceiving 
such matters that there is a very wide difference, in 
reason and policy, between the mode of proceeding on 
the irregular conduct of scattered individuals, or even 
of bands of men who disturb order within the state, 10 
and the civil dissensions which may, from time to 
time, on great questions, agitate the several communi 
ties which compose a great empire. It looks to me to 
be narrow and pedantic to apply the ordinary ideas of 
criminal justice to this great public contest. I do not 13 
know the method of drawing up an indictment against 
a whole people. I cannot insult and ridicule the feel 
ings of millions of my fellow-creatures as Sir Edward 
Coke insulted one excellent individual (Sir Walter 
Raleigh) at the bar. I hope I am not ripe to pass 20 
sentence on the gravest public bodies, intrusted with 
magistracies of great authority and dignity, and 
charged with the safety of their fellow-citizens, upon 
the very same title that I am. I really think that, 
for wise men, this is not judicious; for sober men, 25 


not decent; for minds tinctured with humanity, not 
mild and merciful. 

Perhaps, Sir, I am mistaken in my idea of an em 
pire, as distinguished from a single state or kingdom. 

5 But my idea of it is this ; that an empire is the aggre 
gate of many states under one common head, whether 
this head be a monarch or a presiding republic. It 
does, in such constitutions, frequently happen and 
nothing but the dismal, cold, dead uniformity of servi- 

ro tude can prevent its happening that the subordinate 
parts have many local privileges and immunities. Be 
tween these privileges and the supreme common au 
thority the line may be extremely nice. Of course 
disputes, often, too, very bitter disputes, and much ill 

15 blood, will arise. But though every privilege is an 
exemption, in the case, from the ordinary exercise of 
the supreme authority, it is no denial of it. The claim 
of a privilege seems rather, ex vi termini, to imply a 
superior power ; for to talk of the privileges of a state 

20 or of a person who has no superior is hardly any better 
than speaking nonsense. Now, in such unfortunate 
quarrels among the component parts of a great politi 
cal union of communities, I can scarcely conceive any 
thing more completely imprudent than for the head of 

*5 the empire to insist that, if any privilege is pleaded 


against his will or his acts, his whole authority is 
denied; instantly to proclaim rebellion, to beat to 
arms, and to put the offending provinces under the 
ban. Will not this, Sir, very soon teach the provinces 
to make no distinctions on their part ? Will it not 
teach them that the government, against which a claim 
of liberty is tantamount to high treason, is a govern 
ment to which submission is equivalent to slavery ? 
It may not always be quite convenient to impress de 
pendent communities with such an idea. 10 

We are, indeed, in all disputes with the Colonies, by 
the necessity of things, the judge. It is true, Sir. 
But I confess that the character of judge in my own 
cause is a thing that frightens me. Instead of filling 
rne with pride, I am exceedingly humbled by it. I 15 
cannot proceed with a stern, assured, judicial confi 
dence, until I find myself in something more like a 
judicial character. I must have these hesitations as 
long as I am compelled to recollect that, in my little 
reading upon such contests as these, the sense of man- 20 
kind has at lea^t as often decided against the superior 
as the subordinate power. Sir, let me add, too, that 
the opinion of my having some abstract right in my 
favor would not put me much at my ease in passing 
sentence, unless I could be sure that there were no 25 


rights which, in their exercise under certain circum 
stances, were not the most odious of all wrongs and 
the most vexatious of all injustice. Sir, these consid 
erations have great weight with me when I find things 

5 so circumstanced, that I see the same party at once a. 
civil litigant against me in point of right and a culprit 
before me, while I sit as a criminal judge on acts of 
his whose moral quality is to be decided upon the 
merits of that very litigation. Men are every now and 

10 then put, by the complexity of human affairs, into 
strange situations; but justice is the same, let the 
judge be in what situation he will. 

There is, Sir, also a circumstance which convinces 
me that this mode of criminal proceeding is not, at 

15 least in the present stage of our contest, altogether 
expedient ; which is nothing less than the conduct of 
those very persons who have seemed to adopt that mode 
by lately declaring a rebellion in Massachusetts Bay, 
as they had formerly addressed to have traitors brought 

*o hither, under an Act of Henry the Eighth, for trial. 
For though rebellion is declared, it is not proceeded 
against as such, nor have any steps been taken towards 
the apprehension or conviction of any individual of 
fender, either on our late or our former Address ; but 

25 modes of public coercion have been adopted, and such 


&s have much, more resemblance to a sort of qualified 
hostility towards an independent power than the pun 
ishment of rebellious subjects. All this seems rather 
inconsistent ; but it shows how difficult it is to apply 
these juridical ideas to our present case. 5 

In this situation, let us seriously and coolly ponder. 
What is it we have got by all our menaces, which have 
been many and ferocious? What advantage have we 
derived from the penal laws we have passed, and which, 
for the time, have been severe and numerous ? What id 
advances have we made towards our object by the send 
ing of a force which, by land arid sea, is no contempti 
ble strength? Has the disorder abated? Nothing 
less. When I see things in this situation after such 
confident hopes, bold promises, and active exertions, 15 
I cannot, for my life, avoid a suspicion that the plan 
itself is not correctly right. 

If, then, the removal of the causes of this spirit of 
American liberty be for the greater part, or rather en 
tirely, impracticable ; if the ideas of criminal process 20 
be inapplicable or, if applicable, are in the highest 
degree inexpedient ; what way yet remains ? No way 
is open but the third and last, to comply with the 
American spirit as necessary ; or, if you please, to 
submit to it as a necessary evil. 25 


If we adopt this mode, if we mean to conciliate 
and concede, let us see of what nature the conces 
sion ought to be. To ascertain the nature of oar eoi* 
cession, we must look at their complaint. The Colonies. 

5 complain that they have not the characteristic mark 
and seal of British freedom. They complain that they 
are taxed in a Parliament in which they are not repre 
sented. If you mean to satisfy them at all, you must 
satisfy them with regard to this complaint. If you 

10 mean to please any people you must give them the 
boon which they ask ; not what you may think better 
for them, but of a kind totally different. Such an 
act may be a wise regulation, but it is no concession ; 
whereas our present theme is the mode of giving 

15 satisfaction. 

Sir, I think you must perceive that I am resolved 
this day to have nothing at all to do with the ques 
tion of the right of taxation. Some gentlemen start 
but it is true; I put it totally out of the question. 

20 It is less than nothing in my consideration. I do not 
indeed wonder, nor will you, Sir, that gentlemen of 
profound learning are fond of displaying it on this 
profound subject. But my consideration is narrow, 
confined, and wholly limited to the policy of the ques- 

2 5 tion. I do not examine whether the giving away a 


man s money be a power excepted and reserved out 
of the general trust of government, and how far all 
mankind, in all forms of polity, are entitled to an 
exercise of that right by the charter of nature; or 
whether, 011 the contrary, a right of taxation is neces- 5 
sarily involved in the general principle of legislation, 
and inseparable from the ordinary supreme power. 
These are deep questions, where great names militate 
against each other, where reason is perplexed, and an 
appeal to authorities only thickens the confusion ; for TO 
high and reverend authorities lift up their heads on 
both sides, and there is no sure footing in the middle. 
This point is the great 


Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old, 15 

Where armies whole have sunk." 

I do not intend to be overwhelmed in that bog, though 
in such respectable company. The question with me 
is, not whether you have a right to render your people 
miserable, but whether it is not your interest to make 2C 
them happy. It is not what a lawyer tells me I may 
do, but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I 
ought .to do. Is a politic act the worse for being a 
generous one ? Is no concession proper but that whict 


is made from your want of right to keep what 
<*rant? Or does it lessen the grace or dignity of re 
laxing in the exercise of an odious claim because you 
have your evidence-room full of titles, and your maga- 

5 zines stuffed with arms to enforce them ? What sig 
nify all those titles, and all those arms? Of what 
avail are they, when the reason of the thing tells me 
that the assertion of my title is the loss of my suit, 
and that I could do nothing but wound myself by the 

10 use of my own weapons ? 

Such is steadfastly my opinion of the absolute neces 
sity of keeping up the concord of this Empire by an 
unity of spirit, though in a diversity of operations, 
that, if I were sure the Colonists had, at their leav- 

15 ing this country, sealed a regular compact of servi 
tude ; that they had solemnly abjured all the rights 
of citizens ; that they had made a vow to renounce 
all ideas of liberty for them and their posterity to 
all generations ; yet I should hold myself obliged to 

20 conform to the temper I found universally prevalent 
in my own day, and to govern two million of men, 
impatient of servitude, on the principles of freedom. 
I am not determining a point of law, I am restoring 
tranquillity ; and the general character and situation 

25 of a people must determine what sort of government 


is fitted for them. That point nothing else can or 
ought to determine. 

My idea, therefore, without considering whether we 
yield as matter of right, or grant as matter of favor, 
is to admit the people of our Colonies into an interest 5 
in the Constitution ; and, by recording that admission 
in the journals of Parliament, to give them as strong an 
assurance as the nature of the thing will admit, that we 
mean forever to adhere to that solemn declaration of 
systematic indulgence. IQ 

Some years ago the repeal of a revenue Act, upon 
its understood principle, might have served to show 
that we intended an unconditional abatement of the 
exercise of a taxing power. Such a measure was then 
sufficient to remove all suspicion, and to give perfect 15 
content. But unfortunate events since that time may 
make something further necessary ; and not more neces 
sary for the satisfaction of the Colonies than for the 
dignity and consistency of our own future proceedings. 

I have taken a very incorrect measure of the dispo- 20 
sition of the House if this proposal in itself would 
be received with dislike. I think, Sir, we have few 
American financiers. But our misfortune is, we are 
too acute, we are too exquisite in our conjectures of 
the future, for men oppressed with such great and / 


present evils. The more moderate among the opposers 
of Parliamentary concession freely confess that they 
hope no good from taxation, but they apprehend the 
Colonists have further views; and if this point were 

5 conceded, they would instantly attack the trade laws. 
These gentlemen are convinced that this was the in 
tention from the beginning, and the quarrel of the 
Americans with taxation was no more than a cloak 
and cover to this design. Such has been the language 

10 even of a gentleman of real moderation, and of a nat 
ural temper well adjusted to fair and equal govern 
ment. I am, however, Sir, not a little surprised at 
this kind of discourse, whenever I hear it ; and I am 
the more surprised on account of the arguments which 

15 I constantly find in company with it, and which are 

often urged from the same mouths and on the same day. 

For instance, when we allege that it is against reason 

to tax a people under so many restraints in trade as the 

Americans, the noble lord in the blue ribbon shall teL 

20 you that the restraints on trade are futile and useless 
of no advantage to us, and of no burthen to those 
on whom they are imposed; that the trade to America 
is not secured by the Acts of Navigation, but by the 
natural and irresistible advantage of a commercial 

25 preference. 


Such is the merit of the trade laws in this posture 
of the debate. But when strong internal circum 
stances are urged against the taxes ; when the scheme 
is dissected; when experience and the nature of things 
are brought to prove, and do prove, the utter impos- 5 
sibility of obtaining an effective revenue from the 
Colonies; when these things are pressed, or rather 
press themselves, so as to drive the advocates of 
Colony taxes to a clear admission of the futility of 
the scheme; then, Sir, the sleeping trade laws revive 10 
from their trance, and this useless taxation is to be 
kept sacred, not for its own sake, but as a counter- 
guard and security of the laws of trade. 

Then, Sir, you keep up revenue laws which are 
mischievous, in order to preserve trade laws that are 15 
useless. Such is the wisdom of our plan in both its 
members. They are separately given up as of no 
value, and yet one is always to be defended for the 
sake of the other ; but I cannot agree with the noble 
lord, nor with the pamphlet from whence he seems to 20 
have borrowed these ideas concerning the inutility of 
the trade laws. For, without idolizing them, I am 
sure they are still, in many ways, of great use to us; 
and in former times they have been of the greatest. 
They do confine, and they do greatly narrow, the 25 


market for the Americans ; but my perfect conviction 
of this does not help me in the least to discern how 
the revenue laws form any security whatsoever to the 
commercial regulations, or that these commercial regu- 

5 lations are the true ground of the quarrel, or that the 
giving way, in any one instance of authority, is to lose 
all that may remain unconceded. 

One fact is clear and indisputable. The public and 
avowed origin of this quarrel was on taxation. This 

co quarrel has indeed brought on new disputes on new 
questions ; but certainly the least bitter, and the fewest 
of all, on the trade laws. To judge which of the two 
be the real radical cause of quarrel, we have to see 
whether the commercial dispute did, in order of time, 

t5 precede the dispute on taxation? There is not a 
shadow of evidence for it. Next, to enable us to 
judge whether at this moment a dislike to the trade 
laws be the real cause of quarrel, it is absolutely 
necessary to put the taxes out of the question by a 

jo repeal. See how the Americans act in this position, 
and then you will be able to discern correctly what is 
the true object of the controversy, or whether any con 
troversy at all will remain. Unless you consent to 
remove this cause of difference, it is impossible, with 

5 decency, to assert that the dispute is not upon what 


it is avowed to be. And I would, Sir, recommend to 
your serious consideration whether it be prudent to 
form a rule for punishing people, not on their own 
acts, but on your conjectures? Surely it is prepos 
terous at the very best. It is not justifying your 5 
anger by their misconduct, but it is converting your 
ill-will into their delinquency. 

But the Colonies will go further. Alas ! alas ! when 
will this speculation against fact and reason end? 
What will quiet these panic fears which we entertain 10 
of the hostile effect of a conciliatory conduct? Is it 
true that no case can exist in which it is proper for 
the sovereign to accede to the desires of his discon 
tented subjects? Is there anything peculiar in this 
case to make a rule for itself? Is all authority of 15 
course lost when it is not pushed to the extreme? Is 
it a certain maxim* that the fewer causes of dissatisfac 
tion are left by government, the more the subject will 
be inclined to resist and rebel? 

All these objections being in fact no more than sus- 20 
picions, conjectures, divinations, formed in defiance 
of fact and experience, they did not, Sir, discourage 
me from entertaining the idea of a conciliatory con 
cession founded on the principles which I have just 
stated. *S 


In forming a plan for this purpose, I endeavored to 
put myself in that frame of mind which was the most 
natural and the most reasonable, and which was cer 
tainly the most probable means of securing me from 

5 all error. I set out with a perfect distrust of my own 
abilities, a total renunciation of every speculation of 
my own, and with a profound reverence for the wisdom 
of our ancestors who have left us the inheritance of 
so happy a constitution and so flourishing an empire, 

10 and, what is a thousand times more valuable, the 
treasury of the maxims and principles which formed 
the one and obtained the other. 

During the reigns of the kings of Spain of the 
Austrian family, whenever they were at a loss in the 

15 Spanish councils, it was common for their statesmen 
to say that they ought to consult the genius of Philip 
the Second. The genius of Philip the Second might 
mislead them, and the issue of their affairs showed 
that they had not chosen the most perfect standard; 

20 but, Sir, I am sure that I shall not be misled when, 
in a case of constitutional difficulty, I consult the gen 
ius of the English Constitution. Consulting at that 
oracle it was with all due humility and piety I 
found four capital examples in a similar case before 

25 me; those of Ireland, Wales, Chester, and Durham. 


Ireland, before the English conquest, though never 
governed by a despotic power, had no Parliament. 
How far the English Parliament itself was at that 
time modelled according to the present form is dis 
puted among antiquaries; but we have all the reason 5 
in the world to be assured that a form of Parliament 
such as England then enjoyed she instantly communi 
cated to Ireland, and we are equally sure that almost 
every successive improvement in constitutional lib 
erty, as fast as it was made here, was transmitted 10 
thither. The feudal baronage and the feudal knight 
hood, the roots of our primitive Constitution, were 
early transplanted into that soil, and grew and flour 
ished there. Magna Charta, if it did not give us 
originally the House of Commons, gave us at least a 15 
House of Commons of weight and consequence. But 
your ancestors did not churlishly sit down alone to 
the feast of Magna Charta. Ireland was made im 
mediately a partaker. This benefit of English laws 
and liberties, I confess, was not at first extended to 20 
all Ireland. Mark the consequence. English au 
thority and English liberties had exactly the same 
boundaries. Your standard could never be advanced 
an inch before your privileges. Sir John Davis shows 
beyond a doubt that the refusal of a general commuui- *s 


cation of these rights was the true cause why Ireland 
was five hundred years in subduing; and after the 
vain projects of a military government, attempted in 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was soon discovered 

5 that nothing could make that country English, in 
civility and allegiance, but your laws and your forms 
of legislature. It was not English arms, but the 
English Constitution, that conquered Ireland. From 
that time Ireland has ever had a general Parliament, 

io as she had before a partial Parliament. You changed 
the people ; you altered the religion ; but you never 
touched the form or the vital substance of free govern 
ment in that kingdom. You deposed kings; you 
restored them ; you altered the succession to theirs, as 

15 well as to your own Crown; but you never altered 
their Constitution, the principle of which was re 
spected by usurpation, restored with the restoration 
of monarchy, and established, I trust, forever, by the 
glorious Ee volution. This has made Ireland the great 

20 and nourishing kingdom that it is, and, from a dis 
grace and a burthen intolerable to this nation, has 
rendered her a principal part of our strength and 
ornament. This country cannot be said to have ever 
formally taxed her. The irregular things done in the 

25 confusion of mighty troubles and on the hinge of 


great revolutions, even if all were done that is said 
to have been done, form no example. If they have 
any effect in argument, they make an exception to 
prove the rule. None of your own liberties could 
stand a moment, if the casual deviations from them 5 
at such times were suffered to be used as proofs of 
their nullity. By the lucrative amount of such casual 
breaches in the Constitution, judge what the stated 
and fixed rule of supply has been in that kingdom. 
Your Irish pensioners would starve, if they had no " 
other fund to live on than taxes granted by English 
authority. Turn your eyes to those popular grants 
from whence all your great supplies are come, and 
learn to respect that only source of public wealth in 
the British Empire. 15 

My next example is Wales. This country was said 
to be reduced by Henry the Third. It was said more 
truly to be so by Edward the First. But though then 
conquered, it was not looked upon as any part of the 
realm of England. Its old Constitution, whatever 20 
that might have been, was destroyed, and no good one 
was substituted in its place. The care of that tract 
was put into the hands of Lords Marchers a form 
of government of a very singular kind; a strange 
heterogeneous monster, something between hostility 25 


and government ; perhaps it has a sort of resemblance, 
according to the modes of those terms, to that of 
Commander-in-chief at present, to whom all civil 
power is granted as secondary. The manners of the 
5 Welsh nation followed the genius of the government. 
The people were ferocious, restive, savage, and uncul 
tivated; sometimes composed, never pacified. Wales, 
within itself, was in perpetual disorder, and it kept 
the frontier of England in perpetual alarm. Benefits 
10 from it to the state there were none. Wales was only 
known to England by incursion and invasion. 

Sir, during that state of things, Parliament was not 
idle. They attempted to subdue the fierce spirit of 
the Welsh by all sorts of rigorous laws. They pro- 
is hibited by statute the sending all sorts of arms into 
Wales, as you prohibit by proclamation (with some 
thing more of doubt on the legality) the sending arms 
to America. They disarmed the Welsh by statute, as 
you attempted (but still with more question on the 
20 legality) to disarm New England by an instruction. 
They made an Act to drag offenders from Wales into 
England for trial, as you have done (but with more 
hardship) with regard to America. By another Act, 
where one of the parties was an Englishman, they 
25 ordained that his trial should be always by English, 


They made Acts to restrain trade, as you do; and 
they prevented the Welsh from the use of fairs and 
markets, as you do the Americans from fisheries 
and foreign ports. In short, when the Statute Book 
was not quite so much swelled as it is now, you find 5 
no less than fifteen acts of penal regulation on the 
subject of Wales. 

Here we rub our hands. A fine body of precedents 
for the authority of Parliament and the use of it ! 
I admit it fully ; and pray add likewise to these prece- 10 
dents that all the while Wales rid this Kingdom like 
an incubus, that it was an unprofitable and oppressive 
burthen, and that an Englishman travelling in that 
country could not go six yards from the high road 
without being murdered. 15 

The march of the human mind is slow. Sir, it was 
not until after two hundred years discovered that, by 
an eternal law, providence had decreed vexation to 
violence, and poverty to rapine. Your ancestors did 
however at length open their eyes to the ill-husbandry 20 
of injustice. They found that the tyranny of a free 
people could of all tyrannies the least be endured, and 
that laws made against a whole nation were not the 
most effectual methods of securing its obedience. 
Accordingly, in the twenty-seventh year of Henry the 25 


Eighth the course was entirely altered. With a pre 
amble stating the entire and perfect rights of the 
Crown of England, it gave to the Welsh all the rights 
and privileges of English subjects. A political order 

5 was established ; the military power gave way to the 
civil; the Marches were turned into Counties. But 
that a nation should have a right to English liberties, 
and yet no share at all in the fundamental security of 
these liberties the grant of their own property 

10 seemed a thing so incongruous that, eight years after, 
that is, in the thirty-fifth of that reign, a complete 
and not ill-proportioned representation by counties 
and boroughs was bestowed upon Wales by Act of 
Parliament. From that moment, as by a charm, the 

15 tumults subsided; obedience was retored; peace, order, 
and civilization followed in the train of liberty. 
When the day-star of the English Constitution had 
arisen in their hearts, all was harmony within and 

20 " simul alba nautis 

Stella refulsit, 

Defluit saxis agitatus humor ; 
Concidunt venti, fugiuntque nubes, 
Et minax (quod sic voluere) ponto 

5 Unda recumbit." 


The very same year the County Palatine of Chester 
received the same relief from its oppressions and 
the same remedy to its disorders. Before this time 
Chester was little less distempered than Wales. The 
inhabitants, without rights themselves, were the fit- $ 
test to destroy the rights of others ; and from thence 
Richard the Second drew the standing army of archers 
with which for a time he oppressed England. The 
people of Chester applied to Parliament in a petition 
penned as I shall read to you : 10 

" To the King, our Sovereign Lord, in most humble wise 
shewen unto your excellent Majesty the inhabitants of 
your Grace s County Palatine of Chester : (1) That where 
the said County Palatine of Chester is and hath been al 
ways hitherto exempt, excluded, and separated out and 15 
from your High Court of Parliament, to have any Knights 
and Burgesses within the said Court ; by reason whereof 
the said inhabitants have hitherto sustained manifold 
disherisons, losses, and damages, ag well in their lands, 
goods, and bodies, as in the good, civil, and politic govern- ao 
ance and maintenance of the commonwealth of their said 
county ; (2) And forasmuch as the said inhabitants have 
always hitherto been bound by the Acts and Statutes 
made and ordained by your said Highness and your most 
noble progenitors, by authority of the said Court, as far 2j 
forth as other counties, cities, and boroughs have been, 
that have had their Knights and Burgesses within your 


said Court of Parliament, and yet have had neither Knight 
ne Burgess there for the said County Palatine ; the said 
inhabitants, for lack thereof, have been oftentime, touched 
and grieved with Acts and Statutes made within the said 
Court, as well derogatory unto the most ancient jurisdic 

tions, liberties, and privileges of your said County Pala 
tine, as prejudicial unto the commonwealth, quietness, 
rest, and peace of your Grace s most bounden subjects 
inhabiting within the same." 

10 What did Parliament with this audacious address? 

Reject it as a libel? Treat it as an affront to 
Government? Spurn it as a derogation from the 
rights of legislature? Did they toss it over the table? 
Did they burn it by the hands of the common hang- 

15 man? They took the petition of grievance, all rugged 
as it was, without softening or temperament, unpurged 
of the original bitterness and indignation of complaint 

they made it the very preamble to their Act of re 
dress, and consecrated its principle to all ages in the 

20 sanctuary of legislation. 

Here is my third example. It was attended with 
the success of the two former. Chester, civilized as 
well as Wales, has demonstrated that freedom, and 
not servitude, is the cure of anarchy ; as religion, and 

25 not atheism, is the true remedy for superstition. Sir, 
this pattern of Chester was followed in the reign of 


Charles the Second with regard to the County Palatine 
of Durham, which is my fourth example. This county 
had long lain out of the pale of free legislation. So 
scrupulously was the example of Chester followed 
that the style of the preamble is nearly the same 5 
with that of the Chester Act; and, without affecting 
the abstract extent of the authority of Parliament, it 
recognizes the equity of not suffering any consider 
able district in which the British subjects may act as 
a body, to be taxed without their own voice in the 10 

Now if the doctrines of policy contained in these 
preambles, and the force of these examples in the 
Acts of Parliaments, avail anything, what can be said 
against applying them with regard to America? Are 15 
not the people of America as much Englishmen as the 
Welsh? The preamble of the Act of Henry the Eighth 
says the Welsh speak a language no way resembling 
that of his Majesty s English subjects. Are the 
Americans not as numerous? If we may trust the 23 
learned and accurate Judge Barrington s account of 
North Wales, and take that as a standard to measure 
the rest, there is no comparison. The people cannot 
amount to above 200,000; not a tenth part of the 
j>Mmber in the Colonies. Is America in rebellion? a? 


Wales was hardly ever free from it. Have you at 
tempted to govern America by penal statutes? You 
made fifteen for Wales. But your legislative author 
ity is perfect with regard to America. Was it less 

5 perfect in Wales, Chester, and Durham? But America 
is virtually represented. What! does the electric 
force of virtual representation more easily pass over 
the Atlantic than pervade Wales, which lies in your 
neighborhood or than Chester and Durham, sur- 

10 rounded by abundance of representation that is actual 
and palpable? But, Sir, your ancestors thought this 
sort of virtual representation, however ample, to be 
totally insufficient for the freedom of the inhabitants 
of territories that are so near, and comparatively so 

15 inconsiderable. How then can I think it sufficient 
for those which are infinitely greater, and infinitely 
more remote? 

You will now,- Sir, perhaps imagine that I am on 
the point of proposing to you a scheme for a repre- 

20 sentation of the Colonies in Parliament. Perhaps I 
might be inclined to entertain some such thought ; but 
a great flood stops me in my course. Opposuit natura. 
I cannot remove the eternal barriers of the creation. 
The thing, in that mode, I do not know to be possible. 

25 As I meddle with no theory, I do not absolutely 


assert the impracticability of such a representation; 
but I do not see my way to it, and those who have 
been more confident have not been more successful. 
However, the arm of public benevolence is not short 
ened, and there are often several means to the same 
end. What nature has disjoined in one way, wisdom 
may unite in another. When we cannot give the 
benefit as we would wish, let us not refuse it alto 
gether. If we cannot give the principal, let us find a 
substitute. But how? Where? What substitute? 

Fortunately I am not obliged, for the ways and 
means of this substitute, to tax my own unproductive 
invention. I am not even obliged to go to the rich 
treasury of the fertile framers of imaginary common 
wealths not to the Kepublic of Plato, not to the 
Utopia of More, not to the Oceana of Harrington. 
It is before me it is at my feet, 

" And the rude swain 
Treads daily on it with his clouted shoon." 

I only wish you to recognize, for the theory, the 
ancient constitutional policy of this kingdom with 
regard tu representation, as that policy has been de 
clared in Acts of Parliament; and as to the practice, 
to return to that mode which a uniform experience 


has marked out to you as best, and in which you 
walked with security, advantage, and honor, until 
the year 1763. 

My Eesolutions therefore mean to establish the 

5 equity and justice of a taxation of America by grant, 
and not by imposition; to mark the legal competency* 
of the Colony Assemblies for the support of their 
government in peace, and for public aids in time of 
war; to acknowledge that this legal competency has 

10 had a dutiful and beneficial exercise; and that experi 
ence has shown the benefit of their grants and the 
futility of Parliamentary taxation as a method of 

These solid truths compose six fundamental propo- 

15 sitions. There are three more Eesolutions corollary 
to these. If you admit the first set, you can hardly 
reject the others. But if you admit the first, I shall 
be far from solicitous whether you accept or refuse 
the last. I think these six massive pillars will be of 

20 strength sufficient to support the temple of British 
concord. I have no more doubt than I entertain of 
my existence that, if you admitted these, you would 
command an immediate peace, and, with but tolerable 
future management, a lasting obedience in America. 

25 I am not arrogant in this confident assurance. The 


propositions are all mere matters of fact, and if they 
are such facts as draw irresistible conclusions even in 
the stating, this is the power of truth, and not any 
management of mine. 

Sir, I shall open the whole plan to you, together 5 
with such observations on the motions as may tend 
to illustrate them where they may want explanation. 
The first is a Eesolution 

" That the Colonies and Plantations of Great Britain in North 
America, consisting of fourteen separate Governments, 10 
and containing two millions and upwards of free inhab 
itants, have not had the liberty and privilege of electing 
and sending any Knights and Burgesses, or others, to 
represent them in the High Court of Parliament." 

This is a plain matter of fact, necessary to be laid 15 
down, and, excepting the description, it is laid down 
in the language of the Constitution ; it is taken nearly 
verbatim from Acts of Parliament. 

The second is like unto the first 

"That the said Colonies and Plantations have been liable to, Tf 
and bounden by, several subsidies, payments, rates, and 
taxes given and granted by Parliament, though the said 
Colonies and Plantations have not their Knights and Bur 
gesses in the said High Court of Parliament, of their own 


election, to represent the condition of their country ; by 
lack whereof they have been oftentimes touched and 
grieved by subsidies given, granted, and assented to, in 
the said Court, in a manner prejudicial to the common- 
$ wealth, quietness, rest, and peace of the subjects inhabit 

ing within the same." 

Is this description too hot, or too cold ; too strong, 
or too weak? Does it arrogate too much to the 
supreme legislature? Does it lean too much to the 
10 claims of the people? If it runs into any of these 
errors, the fault is not mine. It is the language of 
your own ancient Acts of Parliament. 

* Non meus hie serino, sed quse prsecepit Ofellus, 
Kusticus, abnormis sapiens." 

15 It is the genuine produce of the ancient, rustic, 
manly, homebred sense of this country. I did not 
dare to rub off a particle of the venerable rust that 
rather adorns and preserves, than destroys, the metal. 
It would be a profanation to touch with a tool the 

20 stones which construct the sacred altar of peace. I 
would not violate with modern polish the ingenuous 
and noble roughness of these truly Constitutional 
materials. Above all things, I was resolved not to 
be guilty of tampering, the odious vice of restless and 


unstable minds. I put my foot in the tracks of our 
forefathers, where I can neither wander nor stumble. 
Determining to fix articles of peace, I was resolved 
not to be wise beyond what was written; I was re 
solved to use nothing else than the form of sound 5 
words, to let others abound in their own sense, and 
carefully to abstain from all expressions of my own. 
What the law has said, I say. In all things else I 
am silent. I have no organ but for her words. This, 
if it be not ingenious, I am sure is safe. 10 

There are indeed words expressive of grievance in 
this second Resolution, which those who are resolved 
always to be in the right will deny to contain matter 
of fact, as applied to the present case, although Parlia 
ment thought them true with regard to the counties *5 
of Chester and Durham. They will deny that the 
Americans were ever " touched and grieved " with the 
taxes. If they consider nothing in taxes but their 
weight as pecuniary impositions, there might be some 
pretence for this denial; but men may be sorely 20 
touched and deeply grieved in their privileges, as 
well as in their purses. Men may lose little in prop 
erty by the act which takes away all their freedom. 
When a man is robbed of a trifle on the highway, it 
is not the twopence lost that constitutes the capital af 


outrage. This is not confined to privileges. Even 
ancient indulgences, withdrawn without offence on 
the part of those who enjoyed such favors, operate as 
grievances. But were the Americans then not touched 

} and grieved by the taxes, in some measure, merely as 
taxes? If so, why were they almost all either wholly 
repealed, or exceedingly reduced? Were they not 
touched and grieved even by the regulating duties of 
the sixth of George the Second? Else, why were the 

10 duties first reduced to one third in 1764, and after 
wards to a third of that third in the year 1766? Were 
they not touched and grieved by the Stamp Act? I 
shall say they were, until that tax is revived. Were 
they not touched and grieved by the duties of 1767, 

15 which were likewise repealed, and which Lord Hills- 
borough tells you, for the Ministry, were laid contrary 
to the true principle of commerce? Is not the assur 
ance given by that noble person to the Colonies of a 
resolution to lay no more taxes on them an admission 

20 that taxes would touch and grieve them? Is not the 
Resolution of the noble lord in the blue ribbon, now 
standing on your Journals, the strongest of all proofs 
that Parliamentary subsidies really touched and 
grieved them? Else why all these changes, modifr 

25 cations, repeals, assurances, and resolutions? 


The next proposition is 

" That, from the distance of the said Colonies, and from other 
circumstances, no method hath hitherto been devised for 
procuring a representation in Parliament for the said 
Colonies." 5 

This is an assertion of a fact. I go no further on 
the paper, though, in my private judgment, a useful 
representation is impossible I am sure it is not 
desired by them, nor ought it perhaps by us but I 
abstain from opinions. 10 

The fourth Resolution is 

"That each of the said Colonies hath within itself a body, 
chosen in part, or in the whole, by the freemen, free 
holders, or other free inhabitants thereof, commonly called 
the General Assembly, or General Court; with powers I$ 
legally to raise, levy, and assess, according to the several 
usage of such Colonies, duties and taxes towards defray- 
ing all sorts of public services." 

This competence in the Colony Assemblies is cer 
tain. It is proved by tho whole tenor of their Acts 20 
of Supply in all the Assemblies, in which the constant 
style of granting is, "an aid to his Majesty"; and 
Acts granting to the Crown have regularly for near 
a century passed the public offices without dispute. 
Those who have been pleased paradoxically to deny 25 


this right, holding that none but the British Parlia 
ment can grant to the Crown, are wished to look to 
what is done, not only in the Colonies, but in Ireland, 
in one uniform unbroken tenor every session. Sir, I 
5 am surprised that this doctrine should come from some 
of the law servants of the Crown. I say that if the 
Crown could be responsible, his Majesty but cer 
tainly the Ministers, and even these law officers 
themselves through whose hands the Acts passed, 
jo biennially in Ireland, or annually in the Colonies 
are in an habitual course of committing impeachable 
offences. What habitual offenders have been all 
Presidents of the Council, all Secretaries of State, all 
First Lords of Trade, all Attorneys and all Solicitors- 
is General! However, they are safe, as no one im 
peaches them; and there is no ground of charge 
against them except in their own unfounded theories. 
The fifth Resolution is also a resolution of fact 

"That the said General Assemblies, General Courts, or other 
20 bodies legally qualified as aforesaid, have at sundry times 

freely granted several large subsidies and public aids for 
his Majesty s service, according to their abilities, when 
required thereto by letter from one of his Majesty s princi 
pal Secretaries of State ; and that their right to grant the 
25 same, and their cheerfulness and sufficienc7 in the said 


grants, have been at sundry times acknowledged by Par 

To say nothing of their great expenses in the Indian 
wars, and not to take their exertion in foreign ones so 
high as the supplies in the year 1695 not to go back 5 
to their public contributions in the year 1710 I shall 
begin to travel only where the journals give me light, 
resolving to deal in nothing but fact, authenticated by 
Parliamentary record, and to build myself wholly on 
that solid basis. 10 

On the 4th of April, 1748, a Committee of this 
House came to the following resolution: 

" Resolved : That it is the opinion of this Committee that it is 
just and reasonable that the several Provinces and Colonies 
of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and 15 
Rhode Island, be reimbursed the expenses they have been 
at in taking and securing to the Crown of Great Britain 
the Island of Cape Breton and its dependencies." 

The expenses were immense for such Colonies. 
They were above 200,000 sterling; money first raised ^ 
and advanced on their public credit. 

On the 28th of January, 1756, a message from the 
King came to us, to this effect : 

" His Majesty, being sensible of the zeal and vigor with which 
his faithful subjects of certain Colonies in North America 25 


have exerted themselves in defence of his Majesty s just 
rights and possessions, recommends it to this House to 
take the same into their consideration, and to enable his 
Majesty to give them such assistance as may be a proper 
5 re ward and encouragement." 

On the 3d of February, 1756, the House came to a 
suitable Resolution, expressed in words nearly the 
same as those of the message, but with the further 
addition, that the money then voted was as an en- 
10 couragement to the Colonies to exert themselves with 
vigor. It will not be necessary to go through all the 
testimonies which your own records have given to the 
truth of my Eesolutions. I will only refer you to 
the places in the Journals : 

15 Vol. xxvii. 16th and 19th May, 1757. 

Vol. xxviii. June 1st, 1758; April 26th and 30th, 1759; 
March 26th and 31st, and April 28th, 1760 ; 
Jan. 9th and 20th, 1761. 

Vol. xxix. Jan. 22d and 26th, 1762 ; March 14th and 17th, 
20 1763. 

Sir, here is the repeated acknowledgment of Parlia 
ment that the Colonies not only gave, but gave to 
satiety. This nation has formally acknowledged two 
things : first, that the Colonies had gone beyond their 
25 abilities, Parliament having thought it necessary to 


reimburse them ; secondly, that they had acted legally 
and laudably in their grants of money, and their main 
tenance of troops, since the compensation is expressly 
given as reward and encouragement. Reward is not 
bestowed for acts that are unlawful; and encourage- 5 
ment is not held out to things that deserve reprehen 
sion. My Resolution therefore does nothing more 
than collect into one proposition what is scattered 
through your Journals. I give you nothing but your 
own; and you cannot refuse in the gross what you 10 
have so often acknowledged in detail. The admission 
of this, which will be so honorable to them and to 
you, will, indeed, be mortal to all the miserable stories 
by which the passions of the misguided people have 
been engaged in an unhappy system. The people 15 
heard, indeed, from the beginning of these disputes, 
one thing continually dinned in their ears, that reason 
and justice demanded that the Americans, who paid 
no taxes, should be compelled to contribute. How 
did that fact of their paying nothing stand when the 20 
taxing system began? When Mr. Grenville began to 
form his system of American revenue, he stated in 
this House that the Colonies were then in debt two 
millions six hundred thousand pounds sterling money, 
and was of opinion they would discharge that debt in 25 


four years. On this state, those untaxed people were 
actually subject to the payment of taxes to the amount 
of six hundred and fifty thousand a year. In fact, 
however, Mr. Grenville was mistaken. The funds 

5 given for sinking the debt did not prove quite so ample 
as both the Colonies and he expected. The calcula 
tion was too sanguine ; the reduction was not completed 
till some years after, and at different times in different 
Colonies. However, the taxes after the war continued 

10 too great to bear any addition, with prudence or pro 
priety ; and when the burthens imposed in consequence 
of former requisitions were discharged, our tone be 
came too high to resort again to requisition. No 
Colony, since that time, ever has had any requisition 

15 whatsoever made to it. 

We see the sense of the Crown, and the sense of 
Parliament, on the productive nature of a revenue by 
grant. Now search the same Journals for the produce 
of the revenue by imposition. Where is it? Let us 

20 know the volume and the page. What is the gross, 
what is the net produce? To what service is it ap 
plied? How have you appropriated its surplus? 
What! Can none of the many skilful index-makers 
that we are now employing find any trace of it? 

25 Well, let them and that rest together. But are th p 


Journals, which say nothing of the revenue, as silent 
on the discontent? Oh no! a child may find it. It is 
the melancholy burthen and blot of every page. 

I think, then, I am, from those Journals, justified 
in the sixth and last Resolution, which is 5 

"That it hath been found by experience that the manner of 
granting the said supplies and aids, by the said General 
Assemblies, hath been more agreeable to the said Colonies, 
and more beneficial and conducive to the public service, 
than the mode of giving and granting aids in Parliament, 10 
to be raised and paid in the said Colonies." 

This makes the whole of the fundamental part of 
the plan. The conclusion is irresistible. You cannot 
say that you were driven by any necessity to an exer 
cise of the utmost rights of legislature. You cannot 15 
assert that you took on yourselves the task of impos 
ing Colony taxes from the want of another legal body 
that is competent to the purpose of supplying the 
exigencies of the state without wounding the preju 
dices of the people. Neither is it true that the body 20 
so qualified, and having that competence, had neglected 
the duty. 

The question now, on all this accumulated matter, 
is : whether you will choose to abide by a profitable 
experience, or a mischievous theory; whether you aj 


choose to build on imagination, or fact; whether you 
prefer enjoyment, or hope ; satisfaction in your sub 
jects, or discontent? 

If these propositions are accepted, everything which 
5 has been made to enforce a contrary system must, I 
take it for granted, fall along with it. On that 
ground, I have drawn the following Resolution, 
which, when it comes to be moved, will naturally be 
divided in a proper manner : 

10 That it may be proper to repeal an Act made in the seventh 
year of the reign of his present Majesty, entitled, An Act 
for granting certain duties in the British Colonies and 
Plantations in America ; for allowing a drawback of the 
duties of customs upon the exportation from this Kingdom 

15 of coffee and cocoa-nuts of the produce of the said Colonies 

or Plantations ; for discontinuing the drawbacks payable 
on china earthenware exported 1 3 America ; and for more 
effectually preventing the clandestine running of goods in 
the said Colonies and Plantations. And that it may be 

20 proper to repeal an Act made in the fourteenth year of the 

reign of his present Majesty, entitled, An Act to discon 
tinue, in such manner and for such time as are therein 
mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading or ship 
ping of goods, wares, and merchandise at the town and 

2 . within the harbor of Boston, in the Province of Massa 

chusetts Bay, in North America. And that it may be 
proper to repeal an Act made in the fourteenth year of 


the reign of his present Majesty, entitled, An Act for the 
impartial administration of justice in the cases of persons 
questioned for any acts done by them in the execution of 
the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in 
the Province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England. 5 
And that it may be proper to repeal an Act made in the 
fourteenth year of the reign of his present Majesty, en 
titled, An Act for the better regulating of the Govern 
ment of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New 
England. And also that it may be proper to explain and 10 
amend an Act made in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of 
King Henry the Eighth, entitled, An Act for the Trial of 
Treasons committed out of the King s Dominions." 

I wish, Sir, to repeal the Boston Port Bill, because 
independently of the dangerous precedent of sus- 15 
pending the rights of the subject during the King s 
pleasure it was passed, as I apprehend, with less 
regularity and on more partial principles than it 
ought. The corporation of Boston was not heard be 
fore it was condemned. Other towns, full as guilty 2 o 
as she was, have not had their ports blocked up. 
Even the Restraining Bill of the present session does 
not go to the length of the Boston Port Act. The 
same ideas of prudence which induced you not to ex 
tend equal punishment to equal guilt, even when you 25 
were punishing, induced me, who mean not to chas- 


tise, but to reconcile, to be satisfied with the punish 
ment already partially inflicted. 

Ideas of prudence and accommodation to circum 
stances prevent you from taking away the charters of 

5 Connecticut and Ehode Island, as you have taken away 
that of Massachusetts Bay, though the Crown has far 
less power in the two former provinces than it enjoyed 
in the latter, and though the abuses have been full as 
great, and as flagrant, in the exempted as in the pun- 

10 ished. The same reasons of prudence and accommo 
dation have weight with me in restoring the charter 
of Massachusetts Bay. Besides, Sir, the Act which 
changes the charter of Massachusetts is in many par 
ticulars so exceptionable that if I did not wish abso- 

15 lutely to repeal, I would by all means desire to alter 
it, as several of its provisions tend to the subversion 
of all public and private justice. Such, among others, 
is the power in the Governor to change the sheriff at 
his pleasure, and to make a new returning officer for 

20 every special cause. It is shameful to behold such a 
regulation standing among English laws. 

The Act for bringing persons accused of committing 
murder, under the orders of Government to England 
for trial, is but temporary. That Act has calculated 

25 the probable duration of our quarrel with the Colonies, 


and is accommodated to that supposed duration. I 
would hasten the happy moment of reconciliation, and 
therefore must, on my principle, get rid of that most 
justly obnoxious Act. 

The Act of Henry the Eighth, for the Trial of S 
Treasons, I do not mean to take away, but to confine 
it to its proper bounds and original intention ; to make 
it expressly for trial of treasons and the greatest 
treasons may be committed in places where the 
jurisdiction of the Crown does not extend. ic 

Having guarded the privileges of local legislature, 
I would next secure to the Colonies a fair and un 
biassed judicature, for which purpose, Sir, I propose 
the following Resolution : 

"That, from the time when the General Assembly or General 15 
Court of any Colony or Plantation in North America shall 
have appointed by Act of Assembly, duly confirmed, a 
settled salary to the offices of the Chief Justice and other 
Judges of the Superior Court, it may be proper that the 
said Chief Justice and other Judges of the Superior 20 
Courts of such Colony shall hold his and their office and 
offices during their good behavior, and shall not be re 
moved therefrom but when the said removal shall be 
adjudged by his Majesty in Council, upon a hearing on 
complaint from the General Assembly, or on a complaint 25 
from the Governor, or Council, or the House of Repre- 


sentatives severally, or of the Colony in which the said 
Chief Justice and other Judges have exercised the said 

The next Eesolution relates to the Courts of Ad- 
5 niiralty. It is this : 

"That it may be proper to regulate the Courts of Admiralty 
or Vice- Admiralty authorized by the fifteenth Chapter of 
the Fourth of George the Third, in such a manner as to 
make the same more commodious to those who sue, or are 
10 sued, in the said Courts, and to provide for the more de 

cent maintenance of the Judges in the same." 

These courts I do not wish to take away; they are 
in themselves proper establishments. This court is 
one of the capital securities of the Act of Navigation. 

15 The extent of its jurisdiction, indeed, has been in 
creased, but this is altogether as proper, and is indeed 
on many accounts more eligible, where new powers 
were wanted, than a court absolutely new. But courts 
incommodiously situated, in effect, deny justice ; and 

20 a court partaking in the fruits of its own condemna 
tion is a robber. The Congress complain, and com 
plain justly, of this grievance. 

These are the three consequential propositions. I 
have thought of two or three more, but they come 

25 rather too near detail, and to the province of execu- 


tive government, which I wish Parliament always to 
superintend, never to assume. If the first six are 
granted, congruity will carry the latter three. If not, 
the things that remain unrepealed will be, I hope, 
rather unseemly incumbrances on the building, than 5 
very .materially detrimental to its strength and sta 

Here, Sir, I should close; but I plainly perceive 
some objections remain which I ought, if possible, to 
remove. The lirst will be that, in resorting to the 10 
doctrine of our ancestors, as contained in the preamble 
to the Chester Act, I prove too much; that the griev 
ance from a want of representation, stated in that 
preamble, goes to the whole of legislation as well as 
to taxation; and that the Colonies, grounding them- 15 
selves upon that doctrine, will apply it to all parts of 
legislative authority. 

To this objection, with all possible deference and 
humility, and wishing as little as any man living to 
impair the smallest particle of our supreme authority, 20 
I answer, that the words are the words of Parliament, 
and not mine, and that all false and inconclusive in 
ferences drawn from them are not mine, for I heartily 
disclaim any sucli inference. I have chosen the words 
of an Act of Parliament which Mr. Grenville, surely 25 


a tolerably zealous and very judicious advocate foi 
the sovereignty of Parliament, formerly moved to have 
read at your table in confirmation of his tenets. It is 
true that Lord Chatham considered these preambles 

5 as declaring strongly in favor of his opinions. He 
was a no less powerful advocate for the privileges of 
the Americans. Ought I not from hence to presume 
that these preambles are as favorable as possible to 
both, when properly understood ; favorable both to 

10 the rights of Parliament, and to the privilege of the 
dependencies of this Crown? But, Sir, the object of 
grievance in my Resolution I have not taken from the 
Chester, but from the Durham Act, which, confines 
the hardship of want of representation to the case of 

*5 subsidies, and which therefore falls in exactly with 
the case of the Colonies. But whether the unrepre 
sented counties were de jure or de facto bound, the 
preambles do not accurately distinguish, nor indeed 
was it necessary; for, whether de jure or de facto, the 

20 Legislature thought the exercise of the power of tax 
ing as of right, or as of fact without right, equally a 
grievance, and equally oppressive. 

I do not know that the Colonies have, in any general 
way, or in any cool hour, gone much beyond tlu^ de- 

25 mand of humanity in relation to taxes. It is not fair 


to judge of the temper or dispositions of any man, 
or any set of men, when they are composed and at 
rest, from their conduct or their expressions in a state 
of disturbance and irritation. It is besides a very 
great mistake to imagine that mankind follow up 5 
practically any speculative principle, either of gov 
ernment or of freedom, as far as it will go in argument 
and logical illation. We Englishmen stop very short 
of the principles upon which we support any given 
part of our Constitution, or even the whole of it to- 10 
gether. I could easily, if I had not already tired you, 
give you very striking and convincing instances of it. 
This is nothing but what is natural and proper. All 
government, indeed every human benefit and enjoy 
ment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded 15 
on compromise and barter. We balance inconven 
iences ; we give and take ; we remit some rights, that 
we may enjoy others; and we choose rather to be 
happy citizens than subtle disputants. As we must 
give away some natural liberty to enjoy civil advan- 20 
tages, so we must sacrifice some civil liberties for the 
advantages to be derived from the communion and 
fellowship of a great empire. But, in all fair deal 
ings, the thing bought must bear some proportion to 
the purchase paid. None will barter away the im- 25 


mediate jewel of his soul. Though a great house ia 
apt to make slaves haughty, yet it is purchasing a 
part of the artificial importance of a great empire too 
dear to pay for it all essential rights and all the in- 

5 trinsic dignity of human nature. None of us who 
would not risk his life rather than fall under a govern 
ment purely arbitrary. But although there are some 
amongst us who think our Constitution wants many 
improvements to make it a complete system of liberty, 

10 perhaps none who are of that opinion would think it 
right to aim at such improvement by disturbing his 
country, and risking everything that is dear to him. 
In every arduous enterprise we consider what we are 
to lose, as well as what we are to gain ; and the more 

15 and better stake of liberty every people possess, the 
less they will hazard in a vain attempt to make it 
more. These are the cords of man. Man acts from 
adequate motives relative to his interest, and not on 
metaphysical speculations. Aristotle, the great mas- 

20 ter of reasoning, cautions us, and with great weight 
and propriety, against this species of delusive geo 
metrical accuracy in moral arguments as the most 
fallacious of all sophistry. 

The Americans will have no interest contrary to 

25 the grandeur and glory of England, when they are not 


oppressed by the weight of it; and they will rather 
be inclined to respect the acts of a superintending 
legislature when they see them the acts of that power 
which is itself the security, not the rival, of their 
secondary importance. In this assurance my mind 5 
most perfectly acquiesces, and I confess I feel not the 
least alarm from the discontents which are to arise 
from putting people at their ease, nor do I apprehend 
the destruction of this Empire from giving, by an act 
of free grace and indulgence, to two millions of my 10 
fellow-citizens some share of those rights upon which 
I have always been taught to value myself. 

It is said, indeed, that this power of granting, 
vested in American Assemblies, would dissolve the 
unity of the Empire, which was preserved entire, 15 
although Wales, and Chester, and Durham were added 
to it. Truly, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what this 
unity means, nor has it ever been heard of, that I 
know, in the constitutional policy of this country. 
The very idea of subordination of parts excludes this 20 
notion of simple and undivided unity. England is 
the head; but she is not the head and the members 
too. Ireland has ever had from the beginning a 
s-eparate, but not an independent, legislature, which, 
far from distracting, promoted the union of the whole. 25 


Everything was sweetly and harmoniously disposed 
through both islands for the conservation of English 
dominion, and the communication of English liberties. 
I do not see that the same principles might not be car- 

5 ried into twenty islands and with the same good effect. 
This is my model with regard to America, as far as 
the internal circumstances of the two countries are 
the same. I know no other unity of this Empire than 
I can draw from its example during these periods, 

10 when it seemed to my poor understanding more united 
than it is now, or than it is likely to be by the present 

But since I speak of these methods, I recollect, 
Mr. Speaker, almost too late, that I promised, before 

15 I finished, to say something of the proposition of the 
noble lord on the floor, which has been so lately re 
ceived and stands on your Journals. I must be deeply 
concerned whenever it is my misfortune to continue a 
difference with the majority of this House; but as the 

90 reasons for that difference are my apology for thus 
troubling you, suffer me to state them in a very few 
words. I shall compress them into as small a body 
as I possibly can, having already debated that matter 
at large when the question was before the Committee. 

25 First, then, I cannot admit that proposition of a 


ransom by auction; because it is a mere project. It 
is a thing new, unheard of; supported by no experi 
ence; justified by no analogy; without example of 
our ancestors, or root in the Constitution. It is 
neither regular Parliamentary taxation, nor Colony 5 
grant. Experimentum in corpore vili is a good rule, 
which will ever make me adverse to any trial of ex 
periments 011 what is certainly the most valuable of 
all subjects, the peace of this Empire. 

Secondly, it is an experiment which must be fatal 10 
in the end to our Constitution. For what is it but a 
scheme for taxing the Colonies in the ante-chamber 
of the noble lord and his successors? To settle the 
quotas and proportions in this House is clearly impos 
sible. You, Sir, may flatter yourself you shall sit a 15 
state auctioneer, with your hammer in your hand, and 
knock down to each Colony as it bids. But to settle, 
on the plan laid down by the noble lord, the true pro 
portional payment for four or five and twenty govern 
ments according to the absolute and the relative wealth 20 
of each, and according to the British proportion of 
wealth and burthen, is a wild and chimerical notion. 
This new taxation must therefore come in by the back 
door of the Constitution. Each quota must be brought 
to this House ready formed; you can neither add nor 25 


alter. You must register it. You can do nothing 
further; for on what grounds can you deliberate either 
before or after the proposition? You cannot hear the 
counsel for all these provinces, quarrelling each on its 

5 own quantity of payment, and its proportion to others. 
If you should attempt it, the Committee of Provincial 
Ways and Means, or by whatever other name it will 
delight to be called, must swallow up all the time of 

10 Thirdly, it does not give satisfaction to the com 
plaint of the Colonies. They complain that they are 
taxed without their consent; you answer, that you will 
fix the sum at which they shall be taxed. That is, 
you give them the very grievance for the remedy. 

15 You tell them, indeed, that you will leave the mode 
to themselves. I really beg pardon it gives me pain 
to mention it but you must be sensible that you will 
not perform this part of the compact. For, suppose 
the Colonies were to lay the duties, which furnished 

20 their contingent, upon the importation of your manu 
factures, you know you would never suffer such a tax 
to be laid. You know, too, that you would not suffer 
many other modes of taxation; so that, when you 
come to explain yourself, it will be found that you 

25 will neither leave to themselves the quantum nor the 


mode, nor indeed anything. The whole is delusion 
from one end to the other. 

Fourthly, this method of ransom by auction, unless 
it be universally accepted, will plunge you into great 
and inextricable difficulties. In what year of our Lord 5 
are the proportions of payments to be settled? To 
say nothing of the impossibility that Colony agents 
should have general powers of taxing the Colonies at 
their discretion, consider, I implore you, that the 
communication by special messages arid orders between 10 
these agents and their constituents, on each variation 
of the case, when the parties come to contend together 
and to dispute on their relative proportions, will be a 
matter of delay, perplexity, and confusion that never 
can have an end. 15 

If all the Colonies do not appear at the outcry, what 
is the condition of those assemblies who offer, by them 
selves or their agents, to tax themselves up to your 
ideas of their proportion? The refractory Colonies 
who refuse all composition will remain taxed only to 20 
your old impositions, which, however grievous in prin 
ciple, are trifling as to production. The obedient 
Colonies in this scheme are heavily taxed; the refrac 
tory remain unburdened. What will you do? Will 
you lay new and heavier taxes by Parliament on the 25 


disobedient? Pray consider in what way you can d& 
it. You are perfectly convinced that, in the way of 
taxing, you can do nothing but at the ports. Now 
suppose it is Virginia that refuses to appear at your 

5 auction, while Maryland and North Carolina bid hand 
somely for their ransom, and are taxed to your quota, 
how will you put these Colonies on a par? Will 
you tax the tobacco of Virginia-? If you do, you give 
its death-wound to your English revenue at home, and 

10 to one of the very greatest articles of your own for 
eign trade. If you tax the import of that rebellious 
Colony, what do you tax but your own manufactures, 
or the goods of some other obedient and already well- 
taxed Colony? Who has said one word on this laby- 

15 rinth of detail, which bewilders you more and more 
as you enter into it? Who has presented, who can 
present you with a clue to lead you out of it? I think, 
Sir, it is impossible that you should not recollect that 
the Colony bounds are so implicated in one another, 

20 you know it by your other experiments in the bill for 
prohibiting the New England fishery, that you can 
lay no possible restraints on almost any of them which 
may not be presently eluded, if you do not confound 
the innocent with the guilty, and burthen those whom, 

25 upon every principle, you ought to exonerate. He 


must be grossly ignorant of America who thinks that, 
without falling into this confusion of all rules of 
equity and policy, you can restrain any single Colony, 
especially Virginia and Maryland, the central and 
most important of them all. 5 

Let it also be considered that, either in the present 
confusion you settle a permanent contingent, which 
will and must be trifling, and then you have no effectual 
revenue; or you change the quota at every exigency, 
and then on every new repartition you will have a 10 
new quarrel. 

Reflect, besides, that when you have fixed a quota 
for every Colony, you have not provided for prompt 
and punctual payment. Suppose one, two, five, ten 
years arrears. You cannot issue a Treasury Extent 15 
against the failing Colony. You must make new 
Boston Port Bills, new restraining laws, new acts for 
dragging men to England for trial. You must send 
out new fleets, new armies. All is to begin again. 
From this day forward the Empire is never to know 20 
an hour s tranquillity. An intestine fire will be kept 
alive in the bowels of the Colonies, which one time or 
other .must consume this whole Empire. I allow in 
deed that the empire of Germany raises her revenue 
and her troops by quotas and contingents; but the 25 

100 BURKE 

revenue of the empire, and the army of the empire, is 
the worst revenue and the worst army in the world. 

Instead of a standing revenue, you will therefore 
have a perpetual quarrel. Indeed, the noble lord who 

5 proposed this project of a ransom by auction seems 
himself to be of that opinion. His project was rather 
designed for breaking the union of the Colonies than 
for establishing a revenue. He confessed he appre 
hended that his proposal would not be to their taste. 

TO I say this scheme of disunion seems to be at the bottom 
of the project; for I will not suspect that the noble 
lord meant nothing but merely to delude the nation 
by an airy phantom which he never intended to realize. 
But whatever his views may be, as I propose the peace 

15 and union of the Colonies as the very foundation of 
my plan, it cannot accord with one whose foundation 
is perpetual discord. 

Compare the two. This I offer to give you is plain 
and simple. The other full of perplexed and intricate 

o mazes. This is mild; that harsh. This is found by 
experience effectual for its purposes ; the other is a 
new project. This is universal ; the other calculated 
for certain Colonies only. This is immediate in its 
conciliatory operation; the other remote, contingent, 

25 full of hazard. Mine is what becomes the dignity of 


a ruling people gratuitous, unconditional, and not 
held out as a matter of bargain and sale. I have 
done my duty in proposing it to you. I have indeed 
tired you by a long discourse ; but this is the misfor 
tune of those to whose influence nothing will be con- 5 
ceded, and who must win every inch of their ground 
by argument. You have heard me with goodness. 
May you decide with wisdom ! For my part, I feel 
my mind greatly disburthened by what I have done 
to-day. I have been the less fearful of trying your 10 
patience, because on this subject I mean to spare it 
altogether in future. I have this comfort, that in 
every stage of the American affairs I have steadily 
opposed the measures that have produced the confu 
sion, and may bring on the destruction, of this Em- 15 
pire. I now go so far as to risk a proposal of my 
own. If I cannot give peace to my country, I give it 
to my conscience. 

But what, says the financier, is peace to us without 
money ? Your plan gives us no revenue. No ! But 20 
it does; for it secures to the subject the power of 
refusal, the first of all revenues. Experience is a 
cheat, and fact a liar, if this power in the subject of 
proportioning his grant, or of not granting- at all, has 
not been fonnd the richest mine of revenue ever dis- 23 

102 BURKE 

covered by the skill or by the fortune of man. It 
does not indeed vote you 152^750 11s. 2fd, nor any 
other paltry limited sum ; but it gives the strong box 
itself, the fund, the bank from whence only reve- 

s iiues can arise amongst a people sensible of freedom. 
Posita luditur area. Cannot you, in England can 
not you, at this time of day cannot you, a House of 
Commons, trust to the principle which has raised so 
mighty a revenue, and accumulated a debt of near 

10 140,000,000 in this country ? Is this principle to be 
true in England, and false everywhere else ? Is it 
not true in Ireland ? Has it not hitherto been true 
in the Colonies ? Why should you presume that, in 
any country, a body duly constituted for any function 

15 will neglect to perform its duty and abdicate its 
trust ? Such a presumption would go against all 
governments in all modes. But, in truth, this dread 
of penury of supply from a free assembly has no foun 
dation in nature; for first, observe that, besides the 

20 desire which all men have naturally of supporting 
the honor of their own government, that sense of dig 
nity and that security to property which ever attends 
freedom has a tendency to increase the stock of the 
free community. Most may be taken where most is 

25 accumulated. And what is the soil or climate where 


experience has not uniformly proved that the volun 
tary flow of heaped-up plenty, bursting from the 
weight of its own rich luxuriance, has ever run with 
a more copious stream of revenue than could be 
squeezed from the dry husks of oppressed indigence 5 
by the straining of all the politic machinery in the 

Next, we know that parties must ever exist in a 
free country. We know, too, that the emulations of 
such parties their contradictions, their reciprocal 10 
necessities, their hopes, and their fears must send 
them all in their turns to him that holds the balance 
of the State. The parties are the gamesters ;, but 
Government keeps the table, and is sure to be the 
winner in the end. When this game is played, I 15 
really think it is more to be feared that the people 
will be exhausted, than that Government will not be 
supplied ; whereas, whatever is got by acts of abso 
lute power ill obeyed, because odious, or by contracts 
ill kept, because constrained, will be narrow, feeble, ae 
uncertain, and precarious. 

"Ease would retract 
Vows made in pain, as violent and void." 

I, for one, protest against compounding our demands. 
I declare against compounding, for a poor limited 25 

104 BURKE 

sum, the immense, ever-growing, eternal debt which is 
due to generous government from protected freedom. 
And so may I speed in the great object I propose to 
you, as I think it would not only be an act of injustice, 

5 but would be the worst economy in the world, to com 
pel the Colonies to a sum certain, either in the way of 
ransom or in the way of compulsory compact. 

But to clear up my ideas on this subject : a revenue 
from America transmitted hither do not delude youi- 

10 selves you never can receive it ; no, not a shilling. 
We have experience that from remote countries it is 
not to be expected. If, when you attempted to extract 
revenue from Bengal, you were obliged to return in 
loan what you had taken in imposition, what can you 

15 expect from North America? For certainly, if ever 
there was a country qualified to produce wealth, it is 
India ; or an institution fit for the transmission, it is 
the East India Company. America, has none of these 
aptitudes. If America gives you taxable objects on 

20 which you lay your duties here, and gives you, at the 
same time, a surplus by a foreign sale of her commodi 
ties to pay the duties on these objects which yon tax 
at home, she has performed her part to the British 
revenue. But with regard to her own internal estab- 

25 lishments, she may, I doubt not she will, contribute 


in moderation. I say in moderation, for she ought not 
to be permitted to exhaust herself. She ought to be 
reserved to a war, the weight of which, with the 
enemies that we are most likely to have, must be 
considerable in her quarter of the globe. There she 5 
may serve you, and serve you essentially. 

For that service for all service, whether of reve 
nue, trade, or 3inpire my trust is in her interest in 
the British Constitution, My hold of the Colonies 
is in the close affection wiiich grows from common 10 
names, from kindred blood, fron similar privileges, 
and equal protection. These are ties which, though 
light as air, are as. strong as links of iron. Let the 
Colonists always keep the idea of their civil rights 
associated with your government, they will cling 15 
and grapple to you, and no force under heaven will 
le of power to tear them from their allegiance. But 
i?t it be once understood that your government may 
be one thing, and their privileges another, that these 
two things may exist without any mutual relation, ao 
the cement is gone the cohesion is loosened and 
everything hastens to decay and dissolution. As long 
as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign author* 
ity ot this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the 
tax red sro.olt consecrated to our common faith, wher- 25 

106 BURKE 

ever the chosen race and sons of England worship 
freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The 
more they multiply, the more friends you will have ; 
the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect 

5 will be their obedience. Slavery they can have any 
where it is a weed that grows in every soil. They 
may have it from Spain; they may have it from 
Prussia. But, until you become lost to all feeling of 
your true interest and your natural dignity, freedom 

10 they can have from none but you. This is the com 
modity of price of which you have the monopoly. This 
is the true Act of Navigation which binds to you the 
commerce of the Colonies, and through them secures 
to you the wealth of the world. Deny them this 

15 participation of freedom, and you break that sole 
bond which originally made, and must still preserve, 
the unity of the Empire. Do not entertain so w ak 
an imagination as that your registers and your bonds, 
your affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and 

20 your clearances, are what form the great securities 
of your commerce. Do not dream that your letters of 
office, and your instructions, and your suspending 
clauses, are the things that hold together the great 
contexture of the mysterious whole. These things do 

25 not make your government. Dead instruments, passive 


tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English com 
munion that gives all their life and efficacy to them. 
It is the spirit of the English Constitution which, 
infused through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, 
unites, invigorates, vivifies every part of the Empire, 5 
even down to the minutest member. 

Is it not the same virtue which does everything for 
us here in England ? Do you imagine, then, that it 
is the Land Tax Act which raises your revenue ? that 
it is the annual vote in the Committee of Supply 10 
which gives you your army ? or that it is the Mutiny 
Bill which inspires it with bravery and discipline ? 
No ! surely no ! It is the love of the people ; it is 
their attachment to their government, from the sense 
of the deep stake they have in such a glorious institu- .5 
tion, which gives you your army and your navy, and 
infuses into both that liberal obedience without which 
your army would be a base rabble, and your navy 
nothing but rotten timber. 

All this, I know well enough, will sound wild and *o 
chimerical to the profane herd of those vulgar and 
mechanical politicians who have no place among us; 
a sort of people who think thac nothing exists but 
what is gross and material, and who, therefore, far 
from being qualified to be directors of the great move- 25 

108 BURKE 

ment of empire, are not fit to turn a wheel In the 
machine. But to men truly initiated and rightly 
taught, these ruling and master principles which, in 
the opinion of such men as I have mentioned, have 

> no substantial existence, are in truth everything, and 
all in all. Magnanimity* in politics is not seldom the 
truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds 
go ill together. If we are conscious of our station, 
and glow with zeal to fill our places as becomes our 

jo situation and ourselves, we ought to auspicate all our 
public proceedings on America with the old warning 
of the church, Sursum cor da ! * We ought to elevate 
our minds to the greatness of that trust to which the 
order of providence has called us. By adverting to 

15 the dignity of this high calling our ancestors have 
turned a savage wilderness into a glorious empire, 
and have made the most extensive and the only hon 
orable conquests not by destroying, but by promot 
ing the wealth, the number, the happiness, of the 

20 human race. Let us get an American revenue as we 
have got an American empire. English privileges 
have made it all that it is ; English privileges alone 
will make it all it can be. 

In full confidence of this unalterable truth, I now, 

25 quod felix faustumque sit, lay the first stone of the 
Temple of Peace ; and I move you 


" That the Colonies and Plantations of Great Britain in North 
America, consisting of fourteen separate governments, and 
containing two millions and upwards of free inhabitants, 
have not had the liberty and privilege of electing and 
sending any Knights and Burgesses, or others, to repre 
sent them in the High Court of Parliament. * 


1, 9. grand penal bill. This bill originated with Lord 
North. It restricted the trade of the New England colonies to 
England and her dependencies. It also placed serious limita 
tions upon the Newfoundland fisheries. The House of Lords 
was dissatisfied with the measure because it did not include all 
the colonies. 

2, 14. When I first had the honor. Burke was first elected 
to Parliament Dec. 26, 1765. He was at the time secretary to 
Lord Rockingham, Prime Minister. Previous to this he had 
made himself thoroughly familiar with England s policy in 
dealing with her dependencies notably Ireland. 

3, 14. my original sentiments. After many demonstrations 
both in America and England the Stamp Act became a law in 
1765. One of the first tasks the Rockingham ministry set itself 
was to bring about a repeal of this act. Burke made his first 
speech in support of his party. He argued that the abstract 
and theoretical rights claimed by England in matters of govern 
ment should be set aside when they were unfavorable to the 
happiness and prosperity of her colonies and herself. His 
speech was complimented by Pitt, and Dr. Johnson wrote that 
no new member had ever before attracted such attention. 


112 NOTES 

4, 1. America has been kept in agitation. For a period 
of nearly one hundred years the affairs of the colonies had been 
intrusted to a standing committee appointed by Parliament. 
This committee was called "The Lords of Trade." From its 
members came many if not the majority of the propositions for 
the regulation of the American trade. To them the colonial 
governors, who were appointed by the king, gave full accounts 
of the proceedings of the colonial legislatures. These reports, 
often colored by personal prejudice, did not always represent 
the colonists in the best light. It was mainly through the influ 
ence of one of the former Lords of Trade, Charles Townshend, 
who afterwards became the leading voice in the Pitt ministry, 
that the Stamp Act was passed. 

4, 10. a worthy member. Mr. Rose Fuller. 

4, 15. former methods. Condense the thought in this para 
graph. Are such " methods " practised nowadays ? 

6, 3. paper government. Burke possibly had in mind the 
constitution prepared for the Carolinas by John Locke and Earl 
of Shaftesbury. The scheme was utterly impracticable and 
gave cause for endless dissatisfaction. 

8, 1. Refined policy. After a careful reading of the para 
graph determine what Burke means by " refined policy." 

8, 13. the project. The bill referred to had been passed by 
the House on Feb. 27. It provided that those colonies wliich 
voluntarily voted contributions for the common defence and 
support of the English government, and in addition made pro 
vision for the administration of their own civil affairs, should be 
exempt from taxation, except such as was necessary for the 

NOTES 113 

regulation of trade. It has been declared by some that the 
measure was meant in good faith and that its recognition and 
acceptance by the colonies would have brought good results. 
Burke, along with others of the opposition, argued that the 
intention of the bill was to cause dissension and division among 
the colonies. Compare 7, 11-12. State your opinion and give 

8, 14. the noble lord in the blue ribbon. Lord North 
(1732-1792). He entered Parliament at the age of twenty-two, 
served as Lord of the Treasury, 1759 ; was removed by Rock- 
mgham, 1765 ; was again appointed by Pitt to the office of Joint 
Paymaster of the Forces ; became Prime Minister, 1770, and 
resigned, 1781. Lord North is described both by his contempo 
raries and later historians as an easy-going, indolent man, short 
sighted and rather stupid, though obstinate and courageous. 
He was the willing servant of George III., and believed in the 
principle of authority as opposed to that of conciliation. The 
blue ribbon was the badge of the Order of the Garter instituted 
by Edward III. Lord North was made a Knight of the Garter, 
1772. Burke often mentions the " blue ribbon " in speaking of 
the Prime Minister. Why ? 

8, 16. Colony agents. It was customary for colonies to 
select some one to represent them in important matters of legis 
lation. Burke himself served as the agent of New York. Do 
you think this fact accounts in any way for his attitude in this 
speech ? 

9, 5. our address. Parliament had prepared an address to 
the king some months previous, in which Massachusetts was 

114 NOTES 

declared to be in a state of rebellion. The immediate cause ot 
this address was the Boston Tea Party. The lives and fortunes 
of his Majesty s subjects were represented as being in danger, 
and he was asked to deal vigorously not only with Massachusetts 
but with her sympathizers. 

10, 16. those chances. Suggested perhaps by lines in Juliut, 
Cwsar, IV., iii., 216-219 : 

" There is a tide in the affairs of men, 
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 
Omitted, all the voyage of their life 
Is bound in shallows and in miseries." 

11, 8. according to that nature and to those circumstances. 

Compare with 8, 1. Point out the connection between the 
thought here expressed and Burke s idea of "expediency." 

17, 9. great consideration. This paragraph has besn censured 
for its too florid style. It may be rather gorgeous and rhetorical 
when considered as part of an argument, yet it is very charac 
teristic of Burke as a writer. In no other passage of the speech 
is there such vivid clear-cut imagery. Note the picturesque 
quality of the lines and detect if you can any confusion in figures. 

17, 10. It is good for us to be here. Burke s favorite books 
were Shakespeare, Milton, and the Lible. Trace the abo^e 
sentence to one of these. 

17, 21. 

" Facta parentum 
Jam legere et quse sit poteris cognoscere virtus." 

VIRGIL S Eclogues, IV., 26, 27 

NOTES 115 

Notice the alteration. Already old enough to study the deeds 
of his father and to know what virtue is. 

18, 20. before you taste of death. Compare 17, 1C. 

20, 25. Roman charity. This suggests the more famous 
"Ancient Roman honor" (Merchant of Venice, III., ii., 291). 
The incident referred to by Burke is told by several writers. A 
father condemned to death by starvation is visited in prison by 
his daughter, who secretly nourishes him with milk from her 

23, 7. complexions. " Mislike me not for my complexion. 1 1 
M . V. Is the word used in the same sense by Burke ? 

23, 10. the thunder of the state. What is the classical 
allusion ? 

23, 21. a nation is not governed. 

" Who overcomes 
By force hath overcome but half his foe." 

Paradise Lost, I., 648, 649. 

24, 23. Our ancient indulgence. "The wise and salutary 
neglect," which Burke has just mentioned, was the result of 
(a) the struggle of Charles I. with Parliament. (6) the confusion 
and readjustment at the Restoration, (c) the Revolution of 1688, 

(d) the attitude of France in favoring the cause of the Stuarts, 

(e) the ascendency of the Whigs. England had her hands full 
in attending to affairs at home. As a result of this the colonies 
were practically their own masters in matters of government. 
Also the political party known as the Whigs had its origin 
shortly before William and Mary ascended the throne. This 

116 NOTES 

party favored the colonies and respected their ideas of liberty 
and government. 

26, 14. great contests. One instance of this is Magna 
Charta. Suggest others. 

30, 24. Freedom is to them. Such keen analysis and subtle 
reasoning is characteristic of Burke. It is this tendency that 
justifies some of his admirers in calling him " Philosopher States 
man." Consider his thought attentively and determine whether 
or not his argument is entirely sound. Is he correct in speaking 
of our Gothic ancestors ? 

33, 2. Abeunt studia in mores. Studies become a part of 

33, 20. winged ministers of vengeance. A figure suggested 
perhaps by Horace, Odes, Bk. IV., 4: " Ministrum fulminis 
alitem " the thunder s winged messenger. 

34, 4. the circulation. The Conciliation, as all of Burke s 
writings, is rich in such figurative expressions. In every instance 
the student should discover the source of the figure and determine 
definitely whether or not his author is accurate and suggestive. 

35, 19. its imperfections. 

" But sent to my account 
With all my imperfections upon my head." 

Hamlet, I., v., 78, 79. 

37, 23. same plan. The act referred to, known as the Regu 
lating Act, became a law May 10, 1774. It provided (a) that 
the council, or the higher branch of the legislature, should be 
appointed by the Crown (tbe popular assemblies had previously 

NOTES 11? 

selected the members of the council) ; (6) that officers of the 
common courts should be chosen by the royal governors, and 
(c) that public meetings (except for elections) should not be 
held without the sanction of the king. These measures were 
practically ignored. By means of circular letters the colonies 
were fully instructed through their representatives. As a direct 
result of the Regulating Act, along with other high-handed pro 
ceedings of the same sort, delegates were secretly appointed for 
the Continental Congress on Sept. 1 at Philadelphia. The dele 
gates from Massachusetts were Samuel Adams, John Adarns, 
Robert Paine, and Thomas Gushing. 

38, 25. their liberties. Compare 26, 14. 

39, 12. sudden or partial view. Goodrich, in his Select 
British Eloquence, speaking of Burke s comprehensiveness in 
discussing his subject, compares him to one standing upon an 
eminence, taking a large and rounded view of it on every side. 
The justice of this observation is seen in such instances as the 
above. It is this breadth and clearness of vision more than 
anything else that distinguishes Burke so sharply from his 

39, 16. three ways. How does the first differ from the 
third ? 

43, 21. Spoliatis anna supersunt. Though plundered their 

arms still remain. 

44, 4. your speech would betray you. "Thy speech be- 
wrayeth thee." Matt. xxvi. 73. There is much justice in the 
observation that Burke is often verbose, yet such paragraphs as 
this prove how well he knew to condense and prune his expres- 

118 NOTES 

sion. It is an excellent plan to select from day to day passages 
of this sort and commit them to memory for recitation when the 
speech has been finished. 

45, 10. to persuade slaves. Does this suggest one of 
Byron s poems ? 

45, 23. causes of quarrel. The Assembly of Virginia in 1770 
attempted to restrict the slave trade. Other colonies made the 
same effort, but Parliament vetoed these measures, accompany 
ing its action with the blunt statement that the slave trade was 
profitable to England. Observe how effectively Burke uses hif 
wide knowledge of history. 

48, 18. ex vi termini. From the force of the word. 

49, 23. abstract right. Compare with 11, 8 ; also 8, 1 
Point out connection in thought. 

50, 20. Act of Henry the Eighth. Burke alludes to this i , 
his letter to the sheriffs of Bristol in the following terms . lo- 
try a man under this Act is to condemn him unheard. A per 
son is brought hither in the dungeon of a ship hold ; thence he 
is vomited into a dungeon on land, loaded with irons, unfurnished 
with money, unsupported by friends, three thousand miles from 
all means of calling upon or confronting evidence, where no one 
local circumstance that tends to detect perjury can possibly be 
judged of ; such a person may be executed according to form, 
but he can never be tried according to justice." 

51, 17. correctly right. Explain. 
53, 16. Paradise Lost, II., 392-394. 

53, 18-24 ; 54, 1-10. This passage should be carefully studied. 
Burke ? theory of government is given in the Conciliation, bj 

NOTES 119 

just such lines as these. Refer to other instances of principles 
which he considers fundamental in matters of government. 

55, 24. exquisite. Exact meaning ? 

56, 5. trade laws. What would have been the nature of a 
change beneficial to the colonies ? 

61, 1. English conquest. At Henry II. s accession, 1154, 
Ireland had fallen from the civilization which had once 
flourished upon her soil and which had been introduced by her 
missionaries into England during the seventh century. Henry 
II. obtained the sanction of the Pope, invaded the island, and 
partially subdued the inhabitants. For an interesting account 
of England s relations to Ireland the student should consult 
Green s Short History of the English People. 

62, 13. You deposed kings. What English kings have been 
deposed ? 

63, 23. Lords Marchers. March, boundary. These lords 
were given permission by the English kings to take from the 
Welsh as much land as they could. They built their castles on 
the boundary line between the two countries, and when they 
were not quarrelling among themselves .waged a guerilla warfare 
against the Welsh. The Lords Marchers, because of special 
privileges and the peculiar circumstances of their life, were 
virtually kings petty kings, of course. 

66, 25. " When the clear star has shone upon the sailors, the 
troubled water flows down from the rocks, the winds fall, the 
clouds fade away, and, since they (Castor and Pollux) have so 
willed it, the threatening waves settle on the deep." HORACE, 
Odes, I., 12. 27-32. 

120 NOTES 

70, 22. Opposuit natura. Nature opposed. 

70, 25. no theory. Compare 33, 11-25 ; 34, 1-18. Select 
other instances of Burke s impatience with fine-spun theories in 

71, 15. Republic of Plato. Utopia of More. Ideal states. 
Consult the Century Dictionary. 

71 19 

" And the dull swain 

Treads daily on it with his clouted shoon." 

MILTON S Comus, 6, 34, 3.5. 

72, 3. the year 1763. The date marks the beginning of the 
active struggle between England and the American colonies. 
The Stamp Act was the first definite step taken by the English 
Parliament in the attempt to tax the colonies without their 

72, 6. legal competency. This had been practically recog 
nized by Parliament prior to the passage of the Stamp Act. In 
Massachusetts the Colonial Assembly had made grants from 
year to year to the governor, both for his salary and the inci 
dental expenses of his office. Notwithstanding the fact that he 
was appointed (in most cases) by the Crown, and invariably 
had the ear of the Lords of Trade, the colonies generally had 
things their own way and enjoyed a political freedom greater, 
perhaps, than did the people of England. 

74, 14. This is not my doctrine, but that of Ofellus ; a rustic, 
yet unusually wise. 

75, 10. Compare in point of style with 43, 22-25 ; 44, 1-6. 
In what way do such passages differ from Burke s prevailing 
style? What is the central thought in each paragraph? 

NOTES 121 

81, 14. misguided people. There is little doubt that the 
colonists in many instances were misrepresented by the Lords 
of Trade and by the royal governors. See an interesting account 
of this in Fiske s American Revolution. 

84, 10. an Act. Passed in 1767. It provided for a duty on 
imports, including tea, glass, and paper. 

84, 20. An Act. Boston Post Bill. 

85, 2. impartial administration of justice. This provided 
chat if any person in Massachusetts were charged with murder, 
or any other capital offence, he should be tried either in some 
other colony or in Great Britain. 

85, 8. An Act for the better regulating See 37, 23. 
85, 13. Trial of Treasons. See 50, 20. 

90, 17. de jure. According to law. de facto. According tc 

92, 1. jewel of his soul. 

" Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, 
Is the immediate jewel of their souls," 

Othello, III., iii., 155, 156. 
95, 1. proposition of a ransom. See 8, 13. 
95, 6. An experiment upon something of no value. 
102, 6. They stake their fortune and play. 

102,1(5. Such a presumption. Is Burke right in this ? Select 
instances which seem to warrant just such a presumption. Dis 
cuss the political parties of Burke s own day from this point of 

122 NOTES 

103, 1-7. What can you say about the style of this passage ? 
Note the figure, sentence structure, and diction. Does it seem 
artificial and overwrought? Compare it with 43, 22-25; 44. 
1-6 ; also with 90, 23-25 , 91, 1-25 , 92, 1-23. 

105, 4. enemies. France and Spain. 

105, 13. light as air. 

" Trifles light as air 
Are to the jealous confirmations strong 
As proofs of holy writ." Othello, III., iii., 322-324. 

106, 16. grapple to you. 

" The friends thou hast and their adoption tried 
Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel." 

Hamlet, I., iii., 62, 63. 

105, 21 the cement is gone. Figure ? 

107, 21. profane herd. 

" Odi profanum volgus et arceo." 

I hate the vulgar herd and keep it from me. 

HORACE, Odes, III., 1, 1. 

108, 6. Magnanimity. Etymology ? 

108, 10. auspicate. Etymology and derivation ? 

108, 12. Sursum corda. Lift up your hearts. 

108, 25. quod felix faustumque sit. May it be happy ana 


Abstract rights, 111, 118. 
Adams, John and Samuel, 117. 
Address to the king, 113. 
Administration of justice, 121. 

See Regulating Act, 116. 
American Revolution, Fiske, 121. 

Bihle, the, 114. 
Boston Port Bill, 121. 
Boston Tea Party, 114. 
Byron, 118. 

Carolinas, 112. 

Castor, 119. 

Century Dictionary, 120. 

Charles I., 115. 

Charles Townshend, 112. 

Colonial governors, 112. 

Colony agents, 113. 

Competency, legal, 120. 

Complexions, 115. 

Continental Congress, 117. 

Cosmos, 120. 

Duty on imports, 121. 

English conquest, 119. 
English kings deposed, 119. 
Exempt from taxation, 112. 

Fiske, American Revolution, 121, 
France, 115, 122. 
Fuller, Rose, 112. 

George III., policy of, 113. 

Goodrich, Select British Elo 
quence, 117. 

Grand penal bill, 111. 

Great contests, 116. 

Green, History of the English 
People, 119. 

Hamlet, 116, 122. 

Henry II., invasion of Ireland. 


Henry VIII act of , 118. 
Horace, Gaes, 116, 119, 122, 

Imports, duty on, 121. 

Ireland, 111; England s relation 

to, 119. 



John Locke, 112. 
Johnson, Dr., 111. 
Julius Caesar, 114. 

Lord North, 113. 
Lord Rockingham, 111. 
Lords Marchers, 119. 
Lords of Trade, 112, 120, 121. 

Magna Charta, 116. 

March, 119. 

Massachusetts, state of rebellion, 

114 ; Colonial Assembly, 120. 
Milton, 114. 
More, Sir Thomas, Utopia, 120. 

Newfoundland fisheries, 111. 
North, Lord, character of, 113. 

Order of the Garter, 113. 
Othello, 121, 122. 

Paine, Robert, 117. 
Paradise Lost, 115, 118. 
Pitt, 111. 

Plato, Republic, 120. 
Pollux, 119. 

Ransom, proposition of, 121 . See 

Refined policy, 112. 
Regulating Act, 116. 
Revolution, 115. 
Roman charity, 115. 

Shaftesbury, Earl of, 112. 

Shakespeare, 114. 

Sheriffs of Bristol, Burke s lettei 

to, 118. 

Slave trade, 118. 
Spain, 122. 

Stamp Act, 111, 112, 120. 
Stuarts, House of, 115. 

Taxation, 112. 

Theory, Burke s impatience with 


Townshend, Charles, 112. 
Trade laws, 119. 
Trial of Treasons, 118, 121. 

Virgil, Eclogues, 114. 
Virginia, Assembly of, 118. 

Welsh, the, 119. 

Whigs, 115. 

William and Mary, 115. 

Printed in the United States of America. 






cop. 2 

Burke, Edmund 

Burke f s speech on 
conciliation with America